University Ministries

Virtual Devotionals and Worship

University Ministries will be posting weekly devotionals here as well as streaming live virtual worship every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on the University Ministries Facebook page. Gather to watch together and engage in discussion afterwards in Johnson Center 209, 211, and 314. To start your own watch gathering (in person or virtual), email Pastor Terence or Pastor Laura for watch gathering leader guides.

Weekly Devotional

Browse past devotionals and worship

April 26: Dancing with Hope

Pablo Picasso La Ronde de la Jeunesse (The Youth Circle), 1961

“Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them and give them gladness for sorrow.”

 Jeremiah 31:13 

“Time and time again, dancing has saved me,” writes Audrey Borden, a second-year student at North Park University and president of the Social Dance Club. “God gave me the love for music, meeting new people, and the desire to be in connection.” Through dance, Audrey connects with God, community, and self. In the hard times, when dancing with others was not available to them, God was still at work. “Even through losing the ability to dance due to finances, due to moving, and due to depression, God made a way for me to find my path and feel like the person he has made me to be.”

Scripture shows us the healing power of dance. The prophet Jeremiah promised that those in exile would one day dance for joy. After the destruction of the temple—the center of worship and life for the Jewish community—the people of Israel were exiled to Babylon for forty long years. Many struggled to retain hope. Yet in Babylon he encouraged people to plant the seeds of hope, dancing in the midst of uncertainty.

There are times in our lives when joy is in short supply and hope withers. This past year COVID cut off most of us from communities and activities that bring us joy. Society became increasingly polarized. We witnessed or experienced the destructive forces of racism and white supremacy. Yet God offers us a vision of hope, not only for the future, but for now. God invites us to dance—metaphorically or literally, to embrace both joy and sorrow, to move toward greater reliance on God and on one another.

University Ministries’ theme for this year has been Ubuntu, an African concept that, roughly translated, means “I am because you are.” We find our deepest identity when we recognize and embrace our need for one another in Spirit-led communities. The Holy Spirit invites us to the dance of connecting with others in our joy and our pain as we celebrate who God is and trust God’s promises for the future. May God’s hope and joy be yours this last week of class and in the summer ahead.

—Pastor Laura

Past Devotionals and Worship

“. . . We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  

– Romans 5:2b–5

“Hope does not put us to shame . . .”

Really? Are we sure? 

Has anyone else felt a bit like you are sitting in the 1986 Chicagoland classroom of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

“Bueller? Bueller? . . .” 

“Hope? Hope? . . .”

“Anyone? Anyone? . . .”

To say it has been a rough year is certainly an understatement, and if you’re anything like me, you have faced situations and circumstances that have bordered on completely hopeless.

YET . . . YET . . .

Christ is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

To live in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus is to “boast in the hope of the glory of God!” 

To live in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus is to resist the death-dealing powers and principalities around us and to HOPE in God’s promises: 

promises that God’s Kingdom has come and is coming — a kingdom of justice, righteousness, and shalom; 

promises that God is reconciling all things to God’s self through Christ; 

and promises that death does not have the last word!

To live in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus is to live into Ubuntu, acting into the hope of our mutuality, our equality, our shared dignity, value, and worth as God’s image bearers, and the vision of Revelation 7 of a reconciled worshiping community made up of people from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne and before the Lamb. 

To live in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus is to hold on to HOPE 

hope in the face of immense suffering, 

hope in the face of seemingly irreparable divisions, 

hope in the face of violence and wickedness, 

hope in the face of all that feels hopeless. 

—Amber Jipp, Spiritual Formation Coordinator

Image courtesy of Used with permission.

“But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.”

Acts 2:24

The disciples didn’t see it coming. Huddled together behind locked doors, their all-powerful Messiah dead, they wondered which of them was next. So when the stone rolled back from the tomb that Easter morning it seemed impossible. How could anything be more final than death? How could anything be stronger than the grave?

This past year, we did a lot of huddling behind locked doors. It has sometimes seemed as though sickness, injustice and death are more powerful than anything. Our attempts to show up in the midst of our own or others’ suffering seemed small and insignificant. We still don’t know what the future holds or where we are being led.

And it in the midst of it all, God breathes new life through Christ.

The same bones that lay lifeless in a tomb Saturday were stitched together Sunday. A body chilled by the grave pulsed once again with warmth. The disciples’ broken dreams were refashioned into a vision larger than they could ever have imagined.

Suffering and injustice may have their day but they do not have the final word. This is as true for us today as it was two-thousand years ago. Love has already won the great victory. Hope has the final word. Joy has the final word. Peace has the final word. And with Christ we are made new.

When the darkness seemed final

            Jesus rose again.

When all hope was lost

            Jesus rose again.

When death had surely won

            Jesus rose again.

When the disciples’ dreams were dashed

            Jesus rose again.

When darkness…

When despair…

When death…

When failure…

Christ is alive!

Christ is alive!

Christ is alive!

Christ is alive!

May the Risen Christ resurrect hope in all the broken places of our lives and our world. May God sustain you with peace and fill you with joy.

—Pastor Laura

Image used with permission, courtesy of

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

—Luke 9:24 (NIV)


As of late, I’ve been impressed in my spirit by the phrase of “let go,” which is God’s way of telling me: “It’s time to loosen your grip on whatever you’re holding onto. If you don’t loosen your grip, you’ll be unable to transition into the new; my new! So, it’s time to let go.” This, however, is easier said than done. Why? Because human nature never wants to let go, especially if that which we’ve been called to let go of is good and not necessarily bad. Who, after all, wants to relinquish any position of prestige or power? Nobody! But how about if that’s exactly what the Lord is asking you to let go of? What would you do? Would you submit or would you rebel? Remember that we operate in an upside-down kingdom where the way up is the way down!  

Keep in mind that Jesus was willing to let go of His “reputation” to fulfill a specific mandate which would have intrinsic ramifications for the past, present, and future. He was willing to neutralize Himself, so to speak, and subject Himself to His creation. Now that’s humility. To be willing to let go of and come off an eternal throne is amazing, but it was done for our benefit. Think about that for a moment, and ask yourself: if God in the flesh was willing to let go, why can’t you?  

For the most part, I believe that God is calling us, as a corporate whole, to go deeper, but that often demands a loosening, a dying to, or letting go of the self. Nine times out of ten, that means a letting go or emptying out of thoughts, ideas, concepts, attitudes, positions, and ultimately statuses that have shaped us, and in which we currently stand. He’s calling us, I believe, into His new which can only be accessed through a letting go, through a relinquishing of that which can be viewed as rightfully ours.  

In this season we must choose to submit to His revelatory word and empty ourselves of self. We must be willing to start anew, both individually and corporately, which means giving up our desire to do “business” as usual. As we pick up our crosses, perspectives will change, but most of all our relationship with the divine will be enriched, which will impact all our horizontal interactions with believers and unbelievers alike. With that said, I’m reminded of Paul’s words when he declared: “Brethren, I count not myself have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14)Paul, as an ambassador and Apostle of the kingdom, was willing to let go of everything, but the expectation of encountering the new that was before him. But he had to let go just like I believe that we must learn how to let go . . . 


Father, you always speak to us, you always reveal the path that we must take. Though the path may seem hard it, if traversed, will serve a purpose. Help us to understand this reality and submit to your mandate of letting go, and as we let go and loosen our grip on the self, let us experience your fullness in new and diverse ways. Let us not hold on even to those things deemed good, things that can become the enemy of the better. Give us the strength and fortitude to move ahead knowing that You always have our best interest in mind. Let us stop trying to control people and situations, and start trusting You and the Holy Spirit to bring about the necessary changes. 

—Ignacio Alvarez

Ignacio Alvarez is a third year Masters in Christian Ministry & Restorative Arts student in the North Park Theological Seminary’s School of Restorative Arts. He is skilled in the art of carpentry and biblical interpretation from an analytical standpoint. He was born and raised in Little Village in Chicago and believes in the fivefold ministries for the purpose of equipping the saints as outlined in Ephesians 4:11.

*Image used with permission, courtesy of

We Cry Out

Help us, God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name’s sake.
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Before our eyes, make known among the nations
that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants.
May the groans of the prisoners come before you;
with your strong arm preserve those condemned to die.

Psalm 79:9–11

Lament is a form of prayer that connects us to one another and to God. When we cry out in pain before God, we name what is broken and recognize our need for God. The Psalms provide a blueprint for writing our own prayers of lament. John Hall, a student in North Park Seminary’s School of Restorative Arts, writes a lament that calls us to pray for what is broken in us and around us:

I need y’all to pray for me, pray haters stay away from me
Pray for everybody this pandemic tries to take from me
Pray for depressed people feeling hollow inside
Pray for Tawanna, Tay, and Tajma, their grandmama died
Pray now Biden’s taken office he don’t do the hood over wit a bulldozer
Pray for everyone the police pull over
Pray for battered women, pray for everyone in prison
Pray for all convicted felons wit more than one strike against ‘em
Pray for Israel, pray for innocent people who sent to jail
Pray those California earthquakes don’t break the Richter scale
Pray for clean water in third-world countries
Pray before you eat a meal, cuz it’s people all over the world hungry
Pray for better days, pray for young couples who finna get engaged
Pray I exit prison, turn around and take center stage
Pray 40 acres and a mule’s a donkey and a lot of land
And the revolution istelevised, on a body cam
Pray for forgiveness, pray for those who come up against us
Pray that God gives you discernment when you studying the Scriptures
Pray for inner strength, pray that God protects you when it isn’t safe
Pray people don’t feel alienated cuz of a different race
Pray for the preachers, pastors, and deacons in the churches
Pray for law enforcement, even though they continue to merc us
Pray for salvation, pray for equality
Matter fact, pray these stimulus checks can co-exist with the economy
Pray for redemption, pray for anyone I ain’t mention
Those with cancer, AIDS, or any terminally ill condition
Pray for single mothers strugglin’, Pritzker and the government
And victims of stray bullets whose lives come to a sudden end
Pray for our children, pray for Lori Lightfoot
Pray that future traffic stops don’t result in someone black gettin their life took
Pray for the Pope, pray for Africa
Pray for Chiraq, this last calendar year was really a massacre
Pray for the poor, pray for the homeless
Pray for those who got laid off the same day they received an eviction notice
Pray for every mother who had to bury their child
And every mother in the process of putting one in the ground
Pray for the oppressed, pray the world ain’t governed like it’s southern
I can’t tell you how to pray, I’m just sayin . . . pray for something.

—John ‘The Baptist’ Hall


From the author:

My name is John Hall but everyone (even some C.O.’s) call me John the Baptist. I have been following Christ since February 2008. I am black and one-quarter Cherokee Indian. I am currently enrolled in a North Park New Testament course.

I am a writer of Christian rap, poetry, and spoken word. I have been writing since I was 14. I am now in my mid-forties. Everything I write is inspired by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. I was once told God has a plan for my life, and I believe that plan was for me to edify people in and outside the church.

 “Yet you have not called on me, Jacob, 
    you have not wearied yourselves for me, Israel.”

—Isaiah 43:22

When I think of all that has happened this past year—a global pandemic that has claimed, as of this writing, 2,550,344 lives, the economic crisis that has seen over 10,000,000 unemployed in the United States alone, and the senseless loss of Black and Brown lives—Isaiah 43:22 above comes to mind. What I find remarkable about this passage is God’s “complaint” that his people are not “complaining.” There have been all sorts of reactions and responses, some of them good and helpful. However, one response has been noticeably absent—the collective outcry of the people of God to him about our plight. For a people who believe in the sovereignty of God and in His ability to make things right, the silence is revealing.

In NYC in the 1990’s even before 9/11 this Public Service Announcement—If You See Something, Say Something—was ubiquitous. It was an invitation by the powers that be for New Yorkers to phone in any and everything they found amiss. In a true Ubuntu spirit, the authorities made the following assumptions:

  1. The people of New York had a pretty good idea of how things are supposed be and as such could tell any deviation from the norm.
  2. The people of New York cared enough about their lives together—in this case their safety—that they would take the extra time to make a call if they saw something amiss.
  3. The people New York were fairly confident that there is some authority on the other side of the line capable of doing something about whatever is broken.

New Yorkers do not mind giving you a piece of their minds. And the authorities knew that. Far from being problematic, the calls and the complaints they knew they were going to get were a testament of the strength of the relationship between the people and the authorities. Lament, in the Christian worldview, serves a similar function.

God, the Gracious, the All-Powerful, and All-Knowing One, Our Father, expects us, His children, to come to him with all that is amiss in our lives, especially in times like these with a trifecta of woes when everything seems to be falling apart at the very seams. Yet, the people of God have done everything but cry out to Him who is able. Yes, we have contributed to helping the poor, and we should. We have marched for justice, and by all means we should! What we have not done and what the LORD expects from his people is to don sackcloth, put on ashes, and cry out to him. In other words, to “weary” ourselves for him about all these calamities that have befallen us—a staggering over 516,000 lives lost here in the United States.

Something is amiss, do we not see? Something is amiss, do we not care? Something is amiss, do we not believe in His power to act?

The Psalmists and prophets like Habakkuk, all remind us that there is a good, loving, just and powerful God on the other side of the line who stands ready to forgive, heal and restore. So, this season of Lent, the Ubuntu community we are has both the burden and privilege to say something (read cry out, weary ourselves) about the brokenness we see all around us. Just remember that when we cry out, we might be asked to do something.

LORD, in your mercy, hear our prayers when your people who are called by your name cry out. Amen.

—Tony Zamblé
Director of University Ministries

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 (ESV)

On February 22, 2021, our nation held a memorial service for the more than 500,000 people who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Those individuals who lost their lives were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, children, friends, relatives, and lovers. We have to acknowledge that each life lost to this wicked disease deserves to be remembered and honored.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:15 to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We don’t have to look far to see that so many people throughout our communities are weeping over the loss of loved ones and all that has come as a result of COVID-19. As the body of Christ, we are called to weep and lament with our neighbors and those close to us who are suffering. 

This understanding is found in the concept of ubuntu. Ubuntu is the essence of being a person. It means that we are people through other people. We cannot be fully human alone. We are made for interdependence; we are made for family. When you have ubuntu, you embrace others. When you have ubuntu you are generous and compassionate to those around you, and you lament with those who are weeping. As a campus community, let us slow down and lament with those in our community and surrounding communities who have experienced traumatic loss this past year so that we can be image bearers of Christ Jesus.

Be blessed. —Pastor Terence Gadsden

Folded hands painted in blocks of varied colors.
Arana, Jaz (NPU graduate student). Vivid Dreams of Unity. 2020, Digital media.

Matthew 22:34-40 MSG 

34-36When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees; they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

37-40Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

The most important commandment is to love the Lord our God with everything. As believers it is very easy to love God with no problem, but when God tells us the second most important command is to love others just as we love ourselves, we tend to back away. Jesus doesn’t exclude anyone—there is only inclusion. As we are in difficult times, now is the time when we should see each other and love one another. It would be very difficult if we continue to hate because it will cause more isolation and loneliness.

Stop, listen, and reflect.

Stop and process others’ feelings.

Listen to those that have been silenced and oppressed.

Reflect on how you may contribute to others’ pain.

Pray for God to show you how to love your neighbors as yourself.

Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters that are hurting and for my brothers and sisters that experience and show hate. Lord I pray that even though issues arise in society, and it may cause us to separate and make us hate, please help us to start to see each other through your love and remember that we are your children. God, I pray that there will be unity and understanding. God, continue to remind us to show your ultimate love and kindness even though we turn our backs on you more and more daily. We recognize your mercy and desire to work towards following your every command.  For God, you are love. Amen.

—Lashunda Renee Lott (NPU second-year student)

Pair of male and female dancers on a pier in front of Chicago skyline
Beyar, Joel. Beautiful Collision. 2020, photograph.

Joel Beyar, a third-year at North Park University, reflects on his art.

There is a reliance on others and conflict that must go on in an open ubuntu community (ubuntu is a Zulu word that means “I am because you are”). Living your life totally self-sufficiently may be the simpler choice but with choosing ease, you compromise immense fruit and beauty that can be created. Working through challenges and disagreements with others isn’t normally pretty but it’s the balance of conversation, listening, and compromise that must happen for relationships in community to thrive. This balance resembles a dance where we must support, push, and pull each other along. Through that conflict something more beautiful and moving is created that could not have been done on your own.

2 Cor 12:9–10

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (NIV).

Our relationship with God is balanced in a different way–our weakness in tandem with God’s grace. These are two opposing realities of our lives but God uses that balance to do things and to create life and beauty.

—Joel Beyar

To see more of Joel’s art follow him on Instagram: @jmb__photos

Stephen Kelly, Worship Arts Coordinator at North Park University, shares a two-minute devotional on God’s mercy.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it should be that we are not in total control of our lives. Our plans, hopes, and agendas can change in the blink of an eye. As we enter into this new year and semester, it’s important for us as a campus community to remember the power of prayer and to fully submit our prayers and plans to the Lord.  

The late Howard Thurman, who was an American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, civil rights leader, and mentor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a huge believer in the power of prayer. Thurman once prayed a prayer that we as a campus community should all pray together as we enter into 2021. 

 “GodGrant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. There will be much to test me and make weak my strength before the year ends. 

In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed. There will be errors in the mind and great inaccuracies of judgment which will render me the victim of my own ignorance.  

In seeking the light, I shall again and again find myself walking in the darkness.          

I shall mistake my light for your light and I shall drink from the responsibility of the choice I make.             

Nevertheless, grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. May I never give the approval of my own heart to error, to falseness, to vanity, to sin.       

Though my days be marked with failures, stumbling, fallings, let my spirit be free so that You may take it and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal.  

Give me the quiet assurance of Your Love and Presence. Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart.” 

—Howard Thurman “Meditations of the Heart” 

Amen, and go in peace —Pastor Terence Z. Gadsden 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). 

We are in the season of Epiphany—when the Church celebrates the revelation of Christ to the Magi as a light to all nations.  

Last week’s storming of the United States Capitol by an angry mob was an epiphany of its own. Webster’s dictionary defines epiphany as “a . . . sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) . . . a realization, or disclosure; a revealing scene or moment.”  

No longer restrained by social decorum or the rules of law, in last week’s rampaging mob our country got a glimpse of what white supremacy—the defense of white power and privilege—looks like when the thin veil of “decency” is lifted.   

Two epiphanies in this Epiphany season:  

God, emptied of power and lying in a manger.  

Flag-waving extremists commandeering the national halls of power.  

Two revelations in this Epiphany season:  

The love and inclusion of Christ’s kingdom. 

The hatred and bigotry of white supremacy.   

As followers of Jesus, we respond to these two realities. We have a choice: will we fall prey to silence and apathy or will we name what has been revealed? As we call out hatred and racism, can we also proclaim that . . .   

“. . . the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This is the Grace that shines in our darkness. This is the Truth that darkness cannot overcome. 

God of revelation, give us eyes to see and hearts to receive the good news of your coming. Give us boldness to name what is broken in ourselves and in our world so that we may act for justice and proclaim your peace. Amen.   

—Laura Kraybill 


Image courtesy of 

Devotional by North Park SRA Student, Steven Feagin

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end. — Jeremiah 29:11

I love this Scripture because when I’m going through some things it grounds me. Likewise, during these trying times, we’re all going through difficulties and they may be really weighing us down. It’s easy to get discouraged and think that what you believe is never gonna happen, but take courage. God is mindful of your every need, and he says in Jeremiah that He has a plan for you. You are His creation made in His image, and He knows you better than you know yourself. As you seek Him in your daily comings and goings, trust that He will guide you in the directions you need to go to reach your ultimate place of glory. I know during these times it can be very difficult to remain enthusiastic about your situation. It is vital that you stay engaged and do not lose courage. Just know that God’s ways are not our ways, and that He is behind the scene working things out for you. Trust Him. Remember He knows the ending from the beginning. Who better to guide you than someone who knows what is going to happen in the end?

Take heart in His Words and what those words say about you. His desire for you is that you succeed and realize all the potential He placed in you from the very beginning. Trust Him and know that in His good plan these present circumstances will work together for your good. He has already made a way for you to get through these dark times. Go through knowing you are not alone. He is with you in the midst of your situation.

A prayer for the community: Heavenly Father, you allowed us to come together as a community. Sometimes we have not been accepting of one another, but I know, Lord, that we do need one another. Help us, Lord, to love one another no matter what our differences may be. Lord, I ask you to help each of us to do our part to maintain and build a community that works together, plays together, cries together, heals together, worships together as we all grow together. May your grace and mercy always be present in our times of working together. Help us, Lord, to remember the forgiveness you gave us, to forgive those who do us harm. Help us to be grounded in your word and to grow in you when we are together. Let us continue to serve you. Lord, may we always have our eyes on you, and may we always have the hope of Heaven. These are my hopes and dreams for our community. Amen.  

— Steven Feagin

“Keep your head up, your faith strong, and your eyes open for the little miracles all around you because they are there just waiting to be discovered.” — Mandy Hale

About Steven

Steven Feagin is an MA in Christian Ministry candidate through North Park Seminary’s School of Restorative Arts at Stateville Correctional Center. As a Writing Advisor, Feagin is ready to engage all writers in conversations about brainstorming ideas, thesis statement creation and development, and tips for reducing stress and anxiety during the writing process. He also welcomes difficult conversations about interpreting prompts and instructor feedback.

painted image of haloed man in blue robe dancing
"Dancing King" by Evelea Solgos

“I really liked the idea of Jesus as a dancing King, so I thought I ought to illustrate it,” writes Evelea Solgos, North Park student and artist. Solgos was inspired by lyrics from the song “Fountains,” by Rivers and Robots: “You’re a dancing King with lover’s eyes, writing devotion in the skies.” Draped in the blue symbolic of divinity and crowned with a halo, Jesus stretches one arm up to heaven and the other out to humanity as he pirouettes, symbolically connecting heaven and earth through his body. “His face is lifted toward Heaven but his foot is on the ground, and I wanted that to indicate tangible connection and participation with the Earth but ultimate trust and love in the Father,” writes Solgos.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to devote ourselves to Christ and God’s kingdom for which he died. This loyalty supersedes all other allegiances, national or political. While participation in politics during an election is a faithful way to pursue the values that Jesus taught—concern for the poor, outcast, and marginalized—the political arena is not where our ultimate hope lies. That hope is in Christ alone, suffering servant, wounded healer, dancing King. May we join him in the streets.

—Laura Kraybill

Jesus Christ is waiting, waiting in the streets;
no one is his neighbour, all alone he eats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I am lonely too.
Make me, friend or stranger,
fit to wait on you.

Jesus Christ is raging, raging in the streets,
where injustice spirals
and real hope retreats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I am angry too.
In the Kingdom’s causes
Let me rage with you.

Jesus Christ is healing,
healing in the streets;
Curing those who suffer,
touching those he greets.
Listen, Lord Jesus, I have passion too.
Let my care be active, healing just like you.

Jesus Christ is dancing, dancing in the streets,
where each sign of hatred
He, with love, defeats.
Listen, Lord Jesus, we should triumph too.
On suspicion’s graveyard
let us dance with you.

Jesus Christ is calling, calling in the streets,
‘Who will join my journey?
I will guide their feet.’
Listen, Lord Jesus, let my fears be few.
Walk one step before me; I will follow you.

(Text: John Bell, alt. Tune: Now the Green Blade Rises, Iona Community, Scotland GIA publications)

Read devotional in Rayon’s handwriting

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline.”

For much of my life, I have been uprooted from community and separated from family and friends by travels, at times causing me to feel as if I was alone in this world, or did not belong anywhere or to anyone. Incarceration further exacerbated my displacement and had a negative effect on my self-esteem. I became withdrawn and lacked ambition, and I would function without confidence in various areas of my life.

When I came into Christ I found a new identity and those negative components of my being began to change. 2 Timothy 1:7 became a personal favorite verse of mine as I felt it was directed towards me. It reminded me that I now belonged to someone, that I was no longer alone or separated from family, and as a child of God I have been given power. Also that I could operate in confidence as God did not instill in me the spirit of fear that had imprisoned me for years. As I came to this realization, there was a sense of liberation that came with this inherited power as I was no longer held back by fear.

Sometimes, in order for us to effectively carry out the work of God, we need encouragement or to be reminded of God’s gifts as Paul did with Timothy. The things we can do or accomplish are limitless and are a testament to the transformative power of God. Just as Paul believed this to be true for Timothy, it proved to be true for me, and can also be true for all saved by grace.

—Rayon Sampson

About Rayon

Rayon Sampson is a Jamaican immigrant and current MA candidate in Christian Ministry at North Park Theological Seminary’s School of Restorative Arts. He is also a Writing Advisor, class representative, and aspires to be a youth minister. In the writing center, Rayon specializes in thesis statement development, integrating personal experience and observation into academic arguments, and writing academic papers without losing one’s own voice. He also serves as our resident “catchy title” specialist. Read his essay, “Building with Someone.”

Read devotional in Steven’s handwriting

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but he who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16 (NASB).

Reflect for a moment that the Savior of our souls can relate to everything happening in your life right now. Can sympathize and feels what we have ever felt and will continue to in the future. Jesus is able to identify with us because He is and was us. Relatable to our own experiences, yes really, because of His human experience. We tend to forget Jesus had a personal life as us, He understands our weaknesses and vicissitudes; the ups and downs and changes in our lives we all face: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Jesus knows and understands what we’ve been and will go through because he faced the same temptations (test) and challenges as we have. But unlike every human being He remained sinless and didn’t give in or give up. And depending on how we look at the situations (test) we find ourselves in, whether meant to bring us down or designed to build us up, we’re encouraged to draw near to God (in prayer) with confidence to the throne of grace. To approach the very presence of God’s unmerited favor that we may receive mercy (divine active tender compassion) in order to find grace (unmerited favor) to help us in our time of need.

We have a high priest (Jesus) who grants us access to the Father that we can go to because we belong. Do you need heaven’s help? Come to God with confidence that you will find what you’re in need of. With all that’s happening I can’t imagine a better reason to draw close to Christ because He can relate with compassion and help with unmerited favor.

—Steven Ramirez

About Steven

Hello, I’m the youngest of 13 children. I grew up a P/K (pastor’s kid). I have a 23-year-old daughter in college as well. I’m a part of Stateville’s Choir. I can lead, serve and work great on a team. I’m bold, charismatic, humorous, optimistic, loyal and I love hard. I’ve had a lousy start in my life, but I’m working hard to change that and finish well. Fun fact, I was born on Christmas, Dec 25.

Read “Beautiful” in David’s handwriting


Thank you for the opportunity to share a word of devotion with others. I truly believe God gives us all a devotion to share.

I hope you enjoy “Beautiful.”




In Genesis, God said everything He made was good. When I think on all that God created, it is more than good to me, it is beautiful.

In the theme for this year “I am because you are,” God made man in his own image, God created them male and female, Gen 1:27.

How awesome is the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. These two individuals was created by the hands of God. It says in Genesis 2, that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and then it says that Eve was made, created from the rib of Adam. So they are one in the same. Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

Now we come to this month focusing on “Belonging.” Belonging where? In the kingdom of heaven with our heavenly Father.

Adam and Eve were blessed with the gift of eternity, for they knew no sin nor was there death. For the power of sin is death, Roman 6:23. How beautiful it must have been to live in the garden of Eden and be able to walk with all the animals that Adam named. To see all the beauty God created and in this beauty God used it to sustain man. We must not forget the most beautiful part of all in this garden of Eden. To be able to walk and talk with God in this heavenly Kingdom on earth. How Awesome this is.

Some of us know the story of Eve and Adam, in how they were disobedient and eat of the fruit of the tree, in the midst of the garden. This is what caused them to be exiled, put out of the heavenly kingdom on earth. Sin has consequences and it brought a separation between God and man. Adam and Eve were put out of the garden, which we will call Heaven on earth. Our Father God is so merciful that He forgives us our sins and restores us back to where we began. God designed us and put purpose in us for His glory and our benefit.

He said I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also, John 14. It is Jesus, God, love for us that we are paid for in the price of responsibility of our sins. Christ paid the price and we can be restored to our heavenly home, the kingdom of heaven. For this is where God said we belong. Give your life to Christ Jesus today and know you belong to your Heavenly Father, in the kingdom of heaven.

David Denson

About David

David Denson is pursuing his master’s degree in Christian Ministry and Restorative Arts through North Park’s School of Restorative Arts. Mr. Denson was born in Plainfield, New Jersey during the Civil Rights Movement. He finds great inspiration in Black music and is a member of the SRA choir. He was raised in a Christian household and has good memories of his mother reading him Bible stories. He is now an avid reader of Scripture and a friend and colleague to many in the SRA.

The year 2020 has been a challenging year for many people worldwide. It has been a year of grieving and loss on so many levels. On August 28th we lost a black superhero who embodied what kindness, class, and dignity look like when one walks with the Spirit of God. Actor Chadwick Boseman, also known to many as Black Panther, died of colon cancer at the age of 43 last month. Boseman was not only a respected actor who played some amazing roles on the big screen, he also was a hero in the black community that many young and old looked up to. Boseman was a professing Christian who often referenced Scripture and his faith in public. Boseman discussed his faith in more detail in 2018 during his commencement speech at Howard University, his alma mater.

“Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you. God says in Jeremiah, ‘I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future,’” Boseman said, quoting Jeremiah 29:11. “Graduating class, hear me well on this day … This day when you have reached the hilltop, and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career.

“Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history – your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill,” Boseman added. “Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds … when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me. The path to my destiny.

“When God has something for you it doesn’t matter who stands against it. God will move someone that is holding you back away from a door and put someone there who will open it for you if it’s meant for you,” Boseman added. “I don’t know what your future is. But if you’re willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory, then you will not regret it.” North Park, let us continue to be the people of God who walk by the Spirit of God. Be Blessed.

—Pastor Terence Z. Gadsden

June 30: Psalm 136

(The Message)

1-3 Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods,
His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
His love never quits.

4-22 Thank the miracle-working God,
His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos,
His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations,
His love never quits.
The God who filled the skies with light,
His love never quits.
The sun to watch over the day,
His love never quits.
Moon and stars as guardians of the night,
His love never quits.
The God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn,
His love never quits.
And rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression,
His love never quits.
Took Israel in hand with his powerful hand,
His love never quits.
Split the Red Sea right in half,
His love never quits.
Led Israel right through the middle,
His love never quits.
Dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea,
His love never quits.
The God who marched his people through the desert,
His love never quits.
Smashed huge kingdoms right and left,
His love never quits.
Struck down the famous kings,
His love never quits.
Struck Sihon the Amorite king,
His love never quits.
Struck Og the Bashanite king,
His love never quits.
Then distributed their land as booty,
His love never quits.
Handed the land over to Israel.
His love never quits.

23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
His love never quits!

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 29: Psalm 27

(New Living Translation)

A psalm of David

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.

4 The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.

7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.

11 Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

14 Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 26: Psalm 139, The Inescapable God

(New Revised Standard Version)

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.

19 O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
20 those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 25: Psalm 84

(New Living Translation)

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar,
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house,
always singing your praises. Interlude

5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob. Interlude

9 O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
Show favor to the one you have anointed.

10 A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 24: Psalm 23, The Good Shepherd

(The Passion Translation)

23 David’s poetic praise to God
1 The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
2 He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
3 That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
4 Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
5 You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
6 So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 23: Psalm 22

New International Version (NIV)

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 22: Psalm 91

Assurance of God’s Protection

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2 will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
4 he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 19: Psalm 146

(New International Version)

1 Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.

2 I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8     the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 18: Psalm 121, Assurance of God’s Protection

(New Revised Standard Version)

A Song of Ascents

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 17: Psalm 130, A Pilgrim Song

(The Message)

130 1-2 Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life!
Master, hear my cry for help!
Listen hard! Open your ears!
Listen to my cries for mercy.

3-4 If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
and that’s why you’re worshiped.

5-6 I pray to God—my life a prayer—
and wait for what he’ll say and do.
My life’s on the line before God, my Lord,
waiting and watching till morning,
waiting and watching till morning.

7-8 O Israel, wait and watch for God—
with God’s arrival comes love,
with God’s arrival comes generous redemption.
No doubt about it—he’ll redeem Israel,
buy back Israel from captivity to sin.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 16: Psalm 103, Thanksgiving for God’s Goodness

Of David. 

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live[a]
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
obedient to his spoken word.
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will.
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 15: Psalm 71, The Passion

Translation (TPT)

The Psalm of Old Age

71 Lord, you are my secure shelter. Don’t ever let me down!
2 Let your justice be my breakthrough.
Bend low to my whispered cry
and save me from all my enemies!
3 You’re the only place of protection for me.
I keep coming back to hide myself in you,
for you are like a mountain-cliff fortress where I’m kept safe.
4 Let me escape from these cruel and wicked men,
and save me from the hands of the evil one.
5 For you are my only hope, Lord!
I’ve hung on to you, trusting in you all my life.
6–7 It was you who supported me from the day I was born,
loving me, helping me through my life’s journey.
You’ve made me into a miracle;
no wonder I trust you and praise you forever!
Many marvel at my success,
but I know it is all because of you, my mighty protector!
8 I’m overflowing with your praise for all you’ve done,
and your splendor thrills me all day long.
9 Now that I’m old, don’t set me aside.
Don’t let go of me when my strength is spent.
10–11 For all my enemies whisper behind my back.
They’re waiting for me to fall so they can finish me off.
They’re convinced you’ve left me
and that you’ll never come to my rescue.
They’re saying, “Let’s get him now! He has no savior!”
12 O God, stay close to me!
Don’t just watch from a distance! Hurry to help me, my God!
13 Cover these accusers of mine with shame and failure!
Destroy them all, for they only want to kill me!
14 No matter what, I’ll trust in you to help me.
Nothing will stop me from praising you to magnify your glory!
15 I couldn’t begin to count the times you’ve been there for me.
With the skill of a poet I’ll never run out of things to say
of how you faithfully kept me from danger.
16 I will come forth in your mighty strength, O my Lord God.[a]
I’ll tell everyone that you alone are the perfect one.
17 From my childhood you’ve been my teacher,
and I’m still telling everyone of your miracle-wonders!
18 God, now that I’m old and gray, don’t walk away.
Give me grace to demonstrate to the next generation
all your mighty miracles and your excitement,
to show them your magnificent power!
19 For your glorious righteousness reaches up to the high heavens.
No one could ever be compared to you!
Who is your equal, O God of marvels and wonders?
20 Even though you’ve let us sink down with trials and troubles,
I know you will revive us again,
lifting us up from the dust of death.
21 Give us even more greatness than before.
Turn and comfort us once again.
22 My loving God, the harp in my heart will praise you.
Your faithful heart toward us will be the theme of my song.
Melodies and music will rise to you, the Holy One of Israel.
23 I will shout and sing your praises for all you are to me—
Savior, lover of my soul!
24 I’ll never stop telling others how perfect you are
while all those who seek my harm slink away ashamed and defeated!

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

Psalm 19

New International Version (NIV)

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5     It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

June 11: Psalm 90 — God’s Eternity and Human Frailty


A Prayer of Moses, the man of God

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

3 You turn us back to dust,
and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.

5 You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.

7 For we are consumed by your anger;
by your wrath we are overwhelmed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
our years come to an end like a sigh.
10 The days of our life are seventy years,
or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.

11 Who considers the power of your anger?
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
12 So teach us to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.

13 Turn, O Lord! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us,
and as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!

June 9: Psalm 10

The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Cry of the Oppressed

10 Lord, you seem so far away when evil is near!
Why do you stand so far off as though you don’t care?
Why have you hidden yourself when I need you the most?
2 The arrogant in their elitist pride persecute the poor and helpless.
May you pour out upon them
the very evil they’ve planned against others!
3 How they brag and boast of their cravings, exalting the greedy.
They congratulate themselves as they despise you.
4 These arrogant ones, so smug and secure!
In their delusion the wicked boast, saying,
“God doesn’t care about what we do.
There’s nothing to worry about!
Our wealth will last a lifetime.”
5 So seemingly successful are they in their schemes,
prosperous in all their plans and scoffing at any restraint.
6 They boast that neither God nor men will bring them down.
They sneer at all their enemies, saying in their hearts,
“We’ll have success in all we do
and never have to face trouble”—
never realizing that they are speaking this in vain.
7 Their mouths spout out cursing, lies, and threats.
Only trouble and turmoil come from all their plans.
8–9 Like beasts lurking in the shadows of the city
they crouch silently in ambush for the people to pass by.
Pouncing on the poor, they catch them in their snare
to murder their prey in secret
as they plunder their helpless victims.
10 They crush the lowly as they fall beneath their brutal blows,
watching their victims collapse in defeat!
11 Then they say to themselves,
“The Lofty One is not watching while we do this.
He doesn’t even care! We can get away with it!”
12 Now is the time to arise, Lord! Crush them once and for all!
Don’t forget the forgotten and the helpless.
13 How dare the wicked think they’ll escape judgment,
believing that you would not
call them to account for all their ways.
Don’t let the wicked get away with their contempt of you!
14 Lord, I know you see all that they’re doing,
noting their each and every deed.
You know the trouble and turmoil they’ve caused.
Now punish them thoroughly for all that they’ve done!
The poor and helpless ones trust in you, Lord,
for you are famous for being the helper of the fatherless.
I know you won’t let them down.
15 Break the power of the wicked and all their strong-arm tactics.
Search them out and destroy them
for the evil things they’ve done.
16 You, Lord, are King forever and ever!
You will see to it that all the nations perish from your land.
17 Lord, you know and understand all the hopes of the humble
and will hear their cries and comfort their hearts,
helping them all!
18 The orphans and the oppressed will be terrified no longer,
for you will bring them justice, and no one will trouble them.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 8: Psalm 18

The Message (MSG)

A David Song, Which He Sang to God After Being Saved from All His Enemies and from Saul

18: 1-2 I love you, God—
you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
the castle in which I live,
my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
where I run for dear life,
hiding behind the boulders,
safe in the granite hideout.

3 I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
and find myself safe and saved.

4-5 The hangman’s noose was tight at my throat;
devil waters rushed over me.
Hell’s ropes cinched me tight;
death traps barred every exit.

6 A hostile world! I call to God,
I cry to God to help me.
From his palace he hears my call;
my cry brings me right into his presence—
a private audience!

7-15 Earth wobbles and lurches;
huge mountains shake like leaves,
Quake like aspen leaves
because of his rage.
His nostrils flare, bellowing smoke;
his mouth spits fire.
Tongues of fire dart in and out;
he lowers the sky.
He steps down;
under his feet an abyss opens up.
He’s riding a winged creature,
swift on wind-wings.
Now he’s wrapped himself
in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then God thundered out of heaven;
the High God gave a great shout,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
let loose your hurricane anger.

16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!

20-24 God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

25-27 The good people taste your goodness,
The whole people taste your health,
The true people taste your truth,
The bad ones can’t figure you out.
You take the side of the down-and-out,
But the stuck-up you take down a peg.

28-29 Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life;
I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory!
I smash the bands of marauders,
I vault the highest fences.

30 What a God! His road
stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.
Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.

31-42 Is there any god like God?
Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,
then aimed me in the right direction?
Now I run like a deer;
I’m king of the mountain.
He shows me how to fight;
I can bend a bronze bow!
You protect me with salvation-armor;
you hold me up with a firm hand,
caress me with your gentle ways.
You cleared the ground under me
so my footing was firm.
When I chased my enemies I caught them;
I didn’t let go till they were dead men.
I nailed them; they were down for good;
then I walked all over them.
You armed me well for this fight,
you smashed the upstarts.
You made my enemies turn tail,
and I wiped out the haters.
They cried “uncle”
but Uncle didn’t come;
They yelled for God
and got no for an answer.
I ground them to dust; they gusted in the wind.
I threw them out, like garbage in the gutter.

43-45 You rescued me from a squabbling people;
you made me a leader of nations.
People I’d never heard of served me;
the moment they got wind of me they listened.
The foreign devils gave up; they came
on their bellies, crawling from their hideouts.

46-48 Live, God! Blessings from my Rock,
my free and freeing God, towering!
This God set things right for me
and shut up the people who talked back.
He rescued me from enemy anger,
he pulled me from the grip of upstarts,
He saved me from the bullies.

49-50 That’s why I’m thanking you, God,
all over the world.
That’s why I’m singing songs
that rhyme your name.
God’s king takes the trophy;
God’s chosen is beloved.
I mean David and all his children—

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 5: Psalm 42

(NIV) New International Version

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 4: Psalm 51

(New Revised Standard Version)

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5 Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Missed the intro to our Psalms project in June? Watch this brief video on praying the Psalms from Pastor Laura Kraybill.

June 3:  Psalm 12

1 Help, Lord! Save us! For godly ones are swiftly disappearing.
Where are the dependable, principled ones?
They’re a vanishing breed!
Everyone lies, everyone flatters, and everyone deceives.
Nothing but empty talk, smooth talk, and double-talk.
Where are the truthful?
3–4 I know the Lord will not deal gently with people like that!
You will destroy every proud liar who says, “We lie all we want.
Our words are our weapons, and we won’t be held accountable.
Who can stop us?”
May the Lord cut off their twisted tongues
and seal their lying lips.
May they all be silenced—those who boast and brag with their
high-minded talk about doing whatever they want.
But the Lord says, “Now I will arise!
I will defend the poor,
those who were plundered, the oppressed,
and the needy who groan for help.
I will arise to rescue and protect them!”
For every word God speaks is sure and every promise pure.
His truth is tested, found to be flawless, and ever faithful.
It’s as pure as silver refined seven times in a crucible of clay.[b]
7–8 Lord, you will keep us forever safe,
out of the reach of the wicked.
Even though they strut and prowl,
tolerating and celebrating what is worthless and vile,
you will still lift up those who are yours!

The Passion Translation (TPT)

Psalm 46 (NRSV) 

God’s Defense of His City and People 

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

May 29: Proverbs 29

(The Message)

If People Can’t See What God Is Doing
1 For people who hate discipline
and only get more stubborn,
There’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break,
but by then it’ll be too late to help them.
When good people run things, everyone is glad,
but when the ruler is bad, everyone groans.
If you love wisdom, you’ll delight your parents,
but you’ll destroy their trust if you run with whores.
A leader of good judgment gives stability;
an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste.
A flattering neighbor is up to no good;
he’s probably planning to take advantage of you.
Evil people fall into their own traps;
good people run the other way, glad to escape.
The good-hearted understand what it’s like to be poor;
the hardhearted haven’t the faintest idea.
A gang of cynics can upset a whole city;
a group of sages can calm everyone down.
A sage trying to work things out with a fool
gets only scorn and sarcasm for his trouble.
10 Murderers hate honest people;
moral folks encourage them.
11 A fool lets it all hang out;
a sage quietly mulls it over.
12 When a leader listens to malicious gossip,
all the workers get infected with evil.
13 The poor and their abusers have at least something in common:
they can both see—their sight, God’s gift!
14 Leadership gains authority and respect
when the voiceless poor are treated fairly.
15 Wise discipline imparts wisdom;
spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents.
16 When degenerates take charge, crime runs wild,
but the righteous will eventually observe their collapse.
17 Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did—
they’ll turn out delightful to live with.
18 If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.
19 It takes more than talk to keep workers in line;
mere words go in one ear and out the other.
20 Observe the people who always talk before they think—
even simpletons are better off than they are.
21 If you let people treat you like a doormat,
you’ll be quite forgotten in the end.
22 Angry people stir up a lot of discord;
the intemperate stir up trouble.
23 Pride lands you flat on your face;
humility prepares you for honors.
24 Befriend an outlaw
and become an enemy to yourself.
When the victims cry out,
you’ll be included in their curses
if you’re a coward to their cause in court.
25 The fear of human opinion disables;
trusting in God protects you from that.
26 Everyone tries to get help from the leader,
but only God will give us justice.
27 Good people can’t stand the sight of deliberate evil;
the wicked can’t stand the sight of well-chosen goodness.

May 28: Proverbs 28

New International Version

28 The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.
A ruler who oppresses the poor
is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.
Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
but those who heed it resist them.
Evildoers do not understand what is right,
but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than the rich whose ways are perverse.
A discerning son heeds instruction,
but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.
Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.
If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
even their prayers are detestable.
10 Whoever leads the upright along an evil path
will fall into their own trap,
but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.
11 The rich are wise in their own eyes;
one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;
but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.
16 A tyrannical ruler practices extortion,
but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.
17 Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder
will seek refuge in the grave;
let no one hold them back.
18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.[b]
19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good—
yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.
22 The stingy are eager to get rich
and are unaware that poverty awaits them.
23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
24 Whoever robs their father or mother
and says, “It’s not wrong,”
is partner to one who detroys.
25 The greedy stir up conflict,
but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding;
but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.

May 27: Proverbs 27

The Message

You Don’t Know Tomorrow
Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow;
you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.
Don’t call attention to yourself;
let others do that for you.
Carrying a log across your shoulders
while you’re hefting a boulder with your arms
Is nothing compared to the burden
of putting up with a fool.
We’re blasted by anger and swamped by rage,
but who can survive jealousy?
A spoken reprimand is better
than approval that’s never expressed.
The wounds from a lover are worth it;
kisses from an enemy do you in.
When you’ve stuffed yourself, you refuse dessert;
when you’re starved, you could eat a horse.
People who won’t settle down, wandering hither and yon,
are like restless birds, flitting to and fro.
Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight,
a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
10 Don’t leave your friends or your parents’ friends
and run home to your family when things get rough;
Better a nearby friend
than a distant family.
11 Become wise, dear child, and make me happy;
then nothing the world throws my way will upset me.
12 A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
13 Hold tight to collateral on any loan to a stranger;
be wary of accepting what a transient has pawned.
14 If you wake your friend in the early morning
by shouting “Rise and shine!”
It will sound to him
more like a curse than a blessing.
15-16 A nagging spouse is like
the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet;
You can’t turn it off,
and you can’t get away from it.

Your Face Mirrors Your Heart
17 You use steel to sharpen steel,
and one friend sharpens another.
18 If you care for your orchard, you’ll enjoy its fruit;
if you honor your boss, you’ll be honored.
19 Just as water mirrors your face,
so your face mirrors your heart.
20 Hell has a voracious appetite,
and lust just never quits.
21     The purity of silver and gold is tested
by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is teste
by giving them a little fame.
22 Pound on a fool all you like—
you can’t pound out foolishness.
23-27     Know your sheep by name;
carefully attend to your flocks;
(Don’t take them for granted;
possessions don’t last forever, you know.)
And then, when the crops are in
and the harvest is stored in the barns,
You can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool,
and sell your goats for a profit;
There will be plenty of milk and meat
to last your family through the winter.

May 26: Proverbs 26

The Passion Translation

1It is totally out of place to promote and honor a fool,
just like it’s out of place to have snow in the summer
and rain at harvest time.[a]
An undeserved curse will be powerless to harm you.
It may flutter over you like a bird,
but it will find no place to land.[b]
Guide a horse with a whip,
direct a donkey with a bridle,
and lead a rebellious fool with a beating on his backside!
Don’t respond to the words of a fool with more foolish words,
or you will become as foolish as he is!
Instead, if you’re asked a silly question,
answer it with words of wisdom[c]
so the fool doesn’t think he’s so clever.
If you choose a fool to represent you,
you’re asking for trouble.
It will be as bad for you as cutting off your own feet!
You can never trust the words of a fool,
just like a crippled man can’t trust his legs to support him.[d]
Give honor to a fool and watch it backfire—
like a stone tied to a slingshot.
The statements of a fool will hurt others[e]
like a thorn bush brandished by a drunk.
10 Like a reckless archer shooting arrows at random
is the impatient employer
who hires just any fool who comes along—
someone’s going to get hurt![f]
11 Fools are famous for repeating their errors,
like dogs are known to return to their vomit.
12 There’s only one thing worse than a fool,
and that’s the smug, conceited man
always in love with his own opinions.

Don’t Be Lazy

13 The lazy loafer says,
“I can’t go out and look for a job—
there may be a lion out there roaming wild in the streets!”
14 As a door is hinged to the wall,
so the lazy man keeps turning over, hinged to his bed!
15 There are some people so lazy
they won’t even work to feed themselves.
16 A self-righteous person[g] is convinced he’s smarter
than seven wise counselors who tell him the truth.
17 It’s better to grab a mad dog by its ears
than to meddle and interfere in a quarrel[h]
that’s none of your business.

Watch Your Words

18–19 The one who is caught lying to his friend
and says, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,”
can be compared to a madman
randomly shooting off deadly weapons.
20 It takes fuel to have a fire—
a fire dies down when you run out of fuel.
So quarrels disappear when the gossip ends.
21 Add fuel to the fire and the blaze goes on.
So add an argumentative man to the mix
and you’ll keep strife alive.
22 Gossip is so delicious, and how we love to swallow it!
For slander[i] is easily absorbed into our innermost being.
23 Smooth talk[j] can hide a corrupt heart
just like a pretty glaze covers a cheap clay pot.
24 Kind words can be a cover to conceal hatred of others,
for hypocrisy loves to hide behind flattery.
25 So don’t be drawn in by the hypocrite,
for his gracious speech is a charade,
nothing but a masquerade covering his hatred and evil on parade.[k]
26 Don’t worry—he can’t keep the mask on for long.
One day his hypocrisy will be exposed before all the world.
27 Go ahead, set a trap for others—
and then watch as it snaps back on you!
Start a landslide and you’ll be the one who gets crushed.
28 Hatred is the root of slander[l]
and insecurity the root of flattery.[m]

May 22: Proverbs 22

The Message

The Cure Comes Through Discipline
1A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—
God made them both!
A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.
The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick;
if you know what’s good for you, stay clear of it.
Point your kids in the right direction—
when they’re old they won’t be lost.
The poor are always ruled over by the rich,
so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.
Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,
and bullying anger sputters into nothing.
Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.
10 Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down;
you need a break from bickering and griping!
11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
good leaders also delight in their friendship.
12 God guards knowledge with a passion,
but he’ll have nothing to do with deception.
13 The loafer says, “There’s a lion on the loose!
If I go out I’ll be eaten alive!”
14 The mouth of a whore is a bottomless pit;
you’ll fall in that pit if you’re on the outs with God.
15 Young people are prone to foolishness and fads;
the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.
16 Exploit the poor or glad-hand the rich—whichever,
you’ll end up the poorer for it.

The Thirty Precepts of the Sages

Don’t Move Back the Boundary Lines
17-21 Listen carefully to my wisdom;
take to heart what I can teach you.
You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within;
you’ll give it bold expression in your speech.
To make sure your foundation is trust in God,
I’m laying it all out right now just for you.
I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—
tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me—these are truths that work,
and will keep you accountable
to those who sent you.

22-23 Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor,
and don’t use your position to crush the weak,
Because God will come to their defense;
the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them.

24-25 Don’t hang out with angry people;
don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
don’t get infected.

26-27 Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,
hocking your house against a lucky chance.
The time will come when you have to pay up;
you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.

28 Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines
staked out long ago by your ancestors.

29 Observe people who are good at their work—
skilled workers are always in demand and admired;
they don’t take a backseat to anyone.

May 21: Proverbs 21

The Message

God Examines Our Motives
1 Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
he directs it to whatever ends he chooses.
We justify our actions by appearances;
God examines our motives.
Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors
mean far more to God than religious performance.
Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—
are just plain sin.
Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;
hurry and scurry puts you further behind.
Make it to the top by lying and cheating;
get paid with smoke and a promotion—to death!
The wicked get buried alive by their loot
because they refuse to use it to help others.
Mixed motives twist life into tangles;
pure motives take you straight down the road.

Do Your Best, Prepare for the Worst
Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack
than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.
10 Wicked souls love to make trouble;
they feel nothing for friends and neighbors.
11 Simpletons only learn the hard way,
but the wise learn by listening.
12 A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked
and undo the evil they’ve planned.
13 If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor,
your cries will go unheard, unanswered.
14 A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.
15 Good people celebrate when justice triumphs,
but for the workers of evil it’s a bad day.
16 Whoever wanders off the straight and narrow
ends up in a congregation of ghosts.
17 You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.
18 What a bad person plots against the good, boomerangs;
the plotter gets it in the end.
19 Better to live in a tent in the wild
than with a cross and petulant spouse.
20 Valuables are safe in a wise person’s home;
fools put it all out for yard sales.
21 Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind
finds life itself—glorious life!
22 One sage entered a whole city of armed soldiers—
their trusted defenses fell to pieces!
23 Watch your words and hold your tongue;
you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.
24 You know their names—Brash, Impudent, Blasphemer—
intemperate hotheads, every one.
25 Lazy people finally die of hunger
because they won’t get up and go to work.
26 Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have;
the God-loyal are always giving what they do have.
27 Religious performance by the wicked stinks;
it’s even worse when they use it to get ahead.
28 A lying witness is unconvincing;
a person who speaks truth is respected.
29 Unscrupulous people fake it a lot;
honest people are sure of their steps.
30 Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived,
can get the better of God.
31 Do your best, prepare for the worst—
then trust God to bring victory.

May 20: Proverbs 20

The Message

Deep Water in the Heart
20 Wine makes you mean, beer makes you quarrelsome—
a staggering drunk is not much fun.
Quick-tempered leaders are like mad dogs—
cross them and they bite your head off.
It’s a mark of good character to avert quarrels,
but fools love to pick fights.
A farmer too lazy to plant in the spring
has nothing to harvest in the fall.
Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
a wise person draws from the well within.
Lots of people claim to be loyal and loving,
but where on earth can you find one?
God-loyal people, living honest lives,
make it much easier for their children.
8-9 Leaders who know their business and care
keep a sharp eye out for the shoddy and cheap,
For who among us can be trusted
to be always diligent and honest?
10 Switching price tags and padding the expense account
are two things God hates.
11 Young people eventually reveal by their actions
if their motives are on the up and up.

Drinking from the Chalice of Knowledge
12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
we get our basic equipment from God!
13 Don’t be too fond of sleep; you’ll end up in the poorhouse.
Wake up and get up; then there’ll be food on the table.
14 The shopper says, “That’s junk—I’ll take it off your hands,”
then goes off boasting of the bargain.
15 Drinking from the beautiful chalice of knowledge
is better than adorning oneself with gold and rare gems.
16 Hold tight to collateral on any loan to a stranger;
beware of accepting what a transient has pawned.
17 Stolen bread tastes sweet,
but soon your mouth is full of gravel.
18 Form your purpose by asking for counsel,
then carry it out using all the help you can get.
19 Gossips can’t keep secrets,
so never confide in blabbermouths.
20 Anyone who curses father and mother
extinguishes light and exists benighted.

The Very Steps We Take
21 A bonanza at the beginning
is no guarantee of blessing at the end.
22 Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!”
Wait for God; he’ll settle the score.
23 God hates cheating in the marketplace;
rigged scales are an outrage.
24 The very steps we take come from God;
otherwise how would we know where we’re going?
25 An impulsive vow is a trap;
later you’ll wish you could get out of it.
26 After careful scrutiny, a wise leader
makes a clean sweep of rebels and dolts.
27 God is in charge of human life,
watching and examining us inside and out.
28 Love and truth form a good leader;
sound leadership is founded on loving integrity.
29 Youth may be admired for vigor,
but gray hair gives prestige to old age.
30 A good thrashing purges evil;
punishment goes deep within us.

May 19: Proverbs 19

The Message

If You Quit Listening

1 Better to be poor and honest
than a rich person no one can trust.
Ignorant zeal is worthless;
haste makes waste.
People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
so why does God always get blamed?
Wealth attracts friends as honey draws flies,
but poor people are avoided like a plague.
Perjury won’t go unpunished.
Would you let a liar go free?
Lots of people flock around a generous person;
everyone’s a friend to the philanthropist.
When you’re down on your luck, even your family avoids you—
yes, even your best friends wish you’d get lost.
If they see you coming, they look the other way—
out of sight, out of mind.
Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favor;
keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.
The person who tells lies gets caught;
the person who spreads rumors is ruined.
10 Blockheads shouldn’t live on easy street
any more than workers should give orders to their boss.
11 Smart people know how to hold their tongue;
their grandeur is to forgive and forget.
12 Mean-tempered leaders are like mad dogs;
the good-natured are like fresh morning dew.
13 A parent is worn to a frazzle by a stupid child;
a nagging spouse is a leaky faucet.
14 House and land are handed down from parents,
but a congenial spouse comes straight from God.
15 Life collapses on loafers;
lazybones go hungry.
16 Keep the rules and keep your life;
careless living kills.
17 Mercy to the needy is a loan to God,
and God pays back those loans in full.
18 Discipline your children while you still have the chance;
indulging them destroys them.
19 Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger;
if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.
20 Take good counsel and accept correction—
that’s the way to live wisely and well.
21 We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
but God’s purpose prevails.
22 It’s only human to want to make a buck,
but it’s better to be poor than a liar.
23 Fear-of-God is life itself,
a full life, and serene—no nasty surprises.
24 Some people dig a fork into the pie
but are too lazy to raise it to their mouth.
25 Punish the insolent—make an example of them.
Who knows? Somebody might learn a good lesson.
26 Kids who lash out against their parents
are an embarrassment and disgrace.
27 If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,
you’ll soon be out of your depth.
28 An unprincipled witness desecrates justice;
the mouths of the wicked spew malice.
29 The irreverent have to learn reverence the hard way;
only a slap in the face brings fools to attention.

Words Can Kill, and Words Can Give Life

This month the University Ministries team has been spending time in the book of Proverbs. The key concepts in the book are wisdom, discipline, foolishness, and how the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. I am sure that many of us would agree that we need wisdom during these uncertain and difficult times. If we can be honest, many of us have probably had difficult moments living with our family or friends during this pandemic. Maybe you have had an argument or disagreement about your living arrangements, i.e. space, or the lack thereof. Our words and attitudes can either help the situation or make it much worse.

Proverbs 18:12 reminds us that when we are filled with pride, we sometimes cannot see our weaknesses. If we cannot admit our faults, they will never be corrected, and true reconciliation can never happen. Consequently, both parties suffer. Humility allows us to surrender to God, which enables Him to correct us. This godly correction can redirect the course of our lives and steer us in the right direction. That is wisdom from God.

Proverbs 18
(The Message)

1 Loners who care only for themselves spit on the common good.
2 Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse; all they do is run off at the mouth.
3 When wickedness arrives, shame’s not far behind; contempt for life is contemptible.
4 Many words rush along like rivers in flood, but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.
5 It’s not right to go easy on the guilty, or come down hard on the innocent.
6 The words of a fool start fights; do him a favor and gag him.
7 Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words.
8 Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?
9 Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism.
10 God’s name is a place of protection—good people can run there and be safe.
11 The rich think their wealth protects them; they imagine themselves safe behind it.
12 Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor.
13 Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.
14 A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?
15 Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.
16 A gift gets attention; it buys the attention of eminent people.
17 The first speech in a court case is always convincing— until the cross-examination starts!
18 You may have to draw straws when faced with a tough decision.
19 Do a favor and win a friend forever; nothing can untie that bond.
20 Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as
gratifying as a good harvest.
21 Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
22 Find a good spouse, you find a good life—and even more: the favor of God!
23 The poor speak in soft supplications; the rich bark out answers.
24 Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

May 15: Proverbs 15

(The Message)

God Doesn’t Miss a Thing
1 A gentle response defuses anger,
but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise;
fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.
God doesn’t miss a thing—
he’s alert to good and evil alike.
Kind words heal and help;
cutting words wound and maim.
Moral dropouts won’t listen to their elders;
welcoming correction is a mark of good sense.
The lives of God-loyal people flourish;
a misspent life is soon bankrupt.
Perceptive words spread knowledge;
fools are hollow—there’s nothing to them.
God can’t stand pious poses,
but he delights in genuine prayers.
A life frittered away disgusts God;
he loves those who run straight for the finish line.
10 It’s a school of hard knocks for those who leave God’s path,
a dead-end street for those who hate God’s rules.
11 Even hell holds no secrets from God—
do you think he can’t read human hearts?

Life Ascends to the Heights
12 Know-it-alls don’t like being told what to do;
they avoid the company of wise men and women.
13 A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.
14 An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth;
fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.
15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.
16 A simple life in the Fear-of-God
is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.
17 Better a bread crust shared in love
than a slab of prime rib served in hate.
18 Hot tempers start fights;
a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.
19 The path of lazy people is overgrown with briers;
the diligent walk down a smooth road.
20 Intelligent children make their parents proud;
lazy students embarrass their parents.
21 The empty-headed treat life as a plaything;
the perceptive grasp its meaning and make a go of it.
22 Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail;
take good counsel and watch them succeed.
23 Congenial conversation—what a pleasure!
The right word at the right time—beautiful!
24 Life ascends to the heights for the thoughtful—
it’s a clean about-face from descent into hell.
25 God smashes the pretensions of the arrogant;
he stands with those who have no standing.
26 God can’t stand evil scheming,
but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.
27 A greedy and grasping person destroys community;
those who refuse to exploit live and let live.
28 Prayerful answers come from God-loyal people;
the wicked are sewers of abuse.
29 God keeps his distance from the wicked;
he closely attends to the prayers of God-loyal people.
30 A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart,
and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.
31 Listen to good advice if you want to live well,
an honored guest among wise men and women.
32 An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny;
an obedient, God-willed life is spacious.
33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living—
first you learn humility, then you experience glory.

(The Message)

A Way That Leads to Hell
1 Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home;
Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick.
An honest life shows respect for God;
a degenerate life is a slap in his face.
Frivolous talk provokes a derisive smile;
wise speech evokes nothing but respect.
No cattle, no crops;
a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow.
A true witness never lies;
a false witness makes a business of it.
Cynics look high and low for wisdom—and never find it;
the open-minded find it right on their doorstep!
Escape quickly from the company of fools;
they’re a waste of your time, a waste of your words.
The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track;
the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch.
The stupid ridicule right and wrong,
but a moral life is a favored life.
10 The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
will be an outsider at their celebrations.
11 Lives of careless wrongdoing are tumbledown shacks;
holy living builds soaring cathedrals.
12-13 There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

Sift and Weigh Every Word
14 A mean person gets paid back in meanness,
a gracious person in grace.
15 The gullible believe anything they’re told;
the prudent sift and weigh every word.
16 The wise watch their steps and avoid evil;
fools are headstrong and reckless.
17 The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret;
the coldhearted get the cold shoulder.
18 Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion;
wise realists plant their feet on the ground.
19 Eventually, evil will pay tribute to good;
the wicked will respect God-loyal people.
20 An unlucky loser is shunned by all,
but everyone loves a winner.
21 It’s criminal to ignore a neighbor in need,
but compassion for the poor—what a blessing!
22 Isn’t it obvious that conspirators lose out,
while the thoughtful win love and trust?
23 Hard work always pays off;
mere talk puts no bread on the table.
24 The wise accumulate wisdom;
fools get stupider by the day.
25 Souls are saved by truthful witness
and betrayed by the spread of lies.
26 The Fear-of-God builds up confidence,
and makes a world safe for your children.
27 The Fear-of-God is a spring of living water
so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells.
28 The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.
29 Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding;
a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.
30 A sound mind makes for a robust body,
but runaway emotions corrode the bones.
31 You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.
32 The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold;
the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living.
33 Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
fools never even get to say hello.
34 God-devotion makes a country strong;
God-avoidance leaves people weak.
35 Diligent work gets a warm commendation;
shiftless work earns an angry rebuke.

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

13 A wise son pays attention to what his father teaches him.
But anyone who makes fun of others doesn’t listen to warnings.
The good things people say benefit them.
But liars love to hurt others.
Those who guard what they say guard their lives.
But those who speak without thinking will be destroyed.
People who refuse to work want things and get nothing.
But the desires of people who work hard are completely satisfied.
Those who do right hate what is false.
But those who do wrong stink and bring shame on themselves.
Doing right guards those who are honest.
But evil destroys those who are sinful.
Some people pretend to be rich but have nothing.
Others pretend to be poor but have great wealth.
A person’s riches might save their life.
But a poor person is not able to do anything about danger.
The lights of godly people shine brightly.
But the lamps of sinners are blown out.
10 Where there is arguing, there is pride.
But those who take advice are wise.
11 Money gained in the wrong way disappears.
But money gathered little by little grows.
12 Hope that is put off makes one sick at heart.
But a desire that is met is like a tree of life.
13 Anyone who hates what they are taught will pay for it later.
But a person who respects a command will be rewarded.
14 The teaching of wise people is like a fountain that gives life.
It turns those who listen to it away from the jaws of death.
15 Good judgment wins favor.
But the way of liars leads to their ruin.
16 Wise people act with knowledge.
But foolish people show how foolish they are.
17 An evil messenger gets into trouble.
But a trusted messenger brings healing.
18 Those who turn away from their training become poor and ashamed.
But those who accept warnings are honored.
19 A desire that is met is like something that tastes sweet.
But foolish people hate to turn away from evil.
20 Walk with wise people and become wise.
A companion of foolish people suffers harm.
21 Hard times chase those who are sinful.
But those who do right are rewarded with good things.
22 A good person leaves what they own to their children and grandchildren.
But a sinner’s wealth is stored up for those who do right.
23 An unplowed field produces food for poor people.
But those who treat them badly destroy it all.
24 Those who don’t correct their children hate them.
But those who love them are careful to correct them.
25 Those who do right eat until they are full.
But the stomachs of those who do wrong go hungry.

May 12: Proverbs 12


1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but whoever hates correction is stupid.
2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord,
but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.
3 No one can be established through wickedness,
but the righteous cannot be uprooted.
4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
5 The plans of the righteous are just,
but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.
6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
but the speech of the upright rescues them.
7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous stands firm.
8 A person is praised according to their prudence,
and one with a warped mind is despised.
9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food.
10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
11 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
12 The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,
but the root of the righteous endures.
13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
and so the innocent escape trouble.
14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.
15 The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.
16 Fools show their annoyance at once,
but the prudent overlook an insult.
17 An honest witness tells the truth,
but a false witness tells lies.
18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
19 Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but those who promote peace have joy.
21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
22 The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.
24 Diligent hands will rule,
but laziness ends in forced labor.
25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.
26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
27 The lazy do not roast [ a ] any game,
but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.
28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
along that path is immortality.

Today’s Proverb reminds us about the importance of being honest not only to oneself and God, but also to others that we encounter each and every day. We need to honestly admit our sins when we see them and be honest about the conditions of our own spiritual lives, and to lean on God’s word for direction.

Proverbs 11 ( The Message)

1 God hates cheating in the marketplace;
he loves it when business is aboveboard.
2 The stuck-up fall flat on their faces,
but down-to-earth people stand firm.
3 The integrity of the honest keeps them on track;
the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.
4 A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart,
but a principled life can stand up to the worst.
5 Moral character makes for smooth traveling;
an evil life is a hard life.
6 Good character is the best insurance;
crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.
7 When the wicked die, that’s it—
the story’s over, end of hope.
8 A good person is saved from much trouble;
a bad person runs straight into it.
9 The loose tongue of the godless spreads destruction;
the common sense of the godly preserves them.
10 When it goes well for good people, the whole town cheers;
when it goes badly for bad people, the town celebrates.
11 When right-living people bless the city, it flourishes;
evil talk turns it into a ghost town in no time.
12 Mean-spirited slander is heartless;
quiet discretion accompanies good sense.
13 A gadabout gossip can’t be trusted with a secret,
but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence.
14 Without good direction, people lose their way;
the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.
15 Whoever makes deals with strangers is sure to get burned;
if you keep a cool head, you’ll avoid rash bargains.
16 A woman of gentle grace gets respect,
but men of rough violence grab for loot.

A God-Shaped Life
17 When you’re kind to others, you help yourself;
when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.
18 Bad work gets paid with a bad check;
good work gets solid pay.
19 Take your stand with God’s loyal community and live,
or chase after phantoms of evil and die.
20 God can’t stand deceivers,
but oh how he relishes integrity.
21 Count on this: The wicked won’t get off scot-free,
and God’s loyal people will triumph.
22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful face on an empty head.
23 The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.
24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.
26 Curses on those who drive a hard bargain!
Blessings on all who play fair and square!
27 The one who seeks good finds delight;
the student of evil becomes evil.
28 A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.
29 Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air;
common sense tells you it’s a stupid way to live.
30 A good life is a fruit-bearing tree;
a violent life destroys souls.
31 If good people barely make it,
what’s in store for the bad!

The Message (MSG)

Lady Wisdom Calls Out

8 1-11 Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
I’m telling you how to live at your best.
My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth—
I can’t stand the taste of evil!
You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth;
not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.

12-21 “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;
Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,
whose ways I hate with a passion—
pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;
I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule,
and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern,
along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me;
those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—
also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

22-31 “God sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—
before he did anything else.
I was brought into being a long time ago,
well before Earth got its start.
I arrived on the scene before Ocean,
yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes.
Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape,
I was already there, newborn;
Long before God stretched out Earth’s Horizons,
and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather,
And set Sky firmly in place,
I was there.
When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean,
built the vast vault of Heaven,
and installed the fountains that fed Ocean,
When he drew a boundary for Sea,
posted a sign that said no trespassing,
And then staked out Earth’s Foundations,
I was right there with him, making sure everything fit.
Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause,
always enjoying his company,
Delighted with the world of things and creatures,
happily celebrating the human family.

32-36 “So, my dear friends, listen carefully;
those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
don’t squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
when you reject me, you’re flirting with death.”

Image courtesy of Used with permission.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The False Attractions of Adultery

7 My child, keep my words
and store up my commandments with you;
2 keep my commandments and live,
keep my teachings as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and call insight your intimate friend,
5 that they may keep you from the loose[a] woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.

6 For at the window of my house
I looked out through my lattice,
7 and I saw among the simple ones,
I observed among the youths,
a young man without sense,
8 passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
9 in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.

10 Then a woman comes toward him,
decked out like a prostitute, wily of heart.[b]
11 She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
and at every corner she lies in wait.
13 She seizes him and kisses him,
and with impudent face she says to him:
14 “I had to offer sacrifices,
and today I have paid my vows;
15 so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you!
16 I have decked my couch with coverings,
colored spreads of Egyptian linen;
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took a bag of money with him;
he will not come home until full moon.”

21 With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
22 Right away he follows her,
and goes like an ox to the slaughter,
or bounds like a stag toward the trap[c]
23     until an arrow pierces its entrails.
He is like a bird rushing into a snare,
not knowing that it will cost him his life.

24 And now, my children, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
25 Do not let your hearts turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths.
26 For many are those she has laid low,
and numerous are her victims.
27 Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death.

Image courtesy of Used with permission.

The Passion Translation (TPT)

6 My son, if you cosign a loan for an acquaintance
and guarantee his debt,
you’ll be sorry that you ever did it!
2 You’ll be trapped by your promise
and legally bound by the agreement.
So listen carefully to my advice:
3 Quickly get out of it if you possibly can!
Swallow your pride, get over your embarrassment,
and go tell your “friend” you want your name[a] off that contract.
4 Don’t put it off, and don’t rest until you get it done.
5 Rescue yourself from future pain[b]
and be free from it once and for all.
You’ll be so relieved that you did![c]

Life Lessons
6 When you’re feeling lazy,
come and learn a lesson from this tale of the tiny ant.
Yes, all you lazybones, come learn
from the example of the ant and enter into wisdom.
7 The ants have no chief, no boss, no manager—
no one has to tell them what to do.
8 You’ll see them working and toiling all summer long,
stockpiling their food in preparation for winter.
9 So wake up, sleepyhead. How long will you lie there?
When will you wake up and get out of bed?
10 If you keep nodding off and thinking, “I’ll do it later,”
or say to yourself, “I’ll just sit back awhile and take it easy,”
just watch how the future unfolds!
11 By making excuses you’ll learn what it means to go without.
Poverty will pounce on you like a bandit[d]
and move in as your roommate for life.[e]
12–13 Here’s another life lesson to learn
from observing the wayward and wicked man.[f]
You can tell they are lawless.
They’re constant liars, proud deceivers,
full of clever ploys and convincing plots.[g]
14 Their twisted thoughts are perverse,
always with a scheme to stir up trouble,
and sowing strife with every step they take.
15 But when calamity comes knocking on their door,
suddenly and without warning they’re undone—
broken to bits, shattered, with no hope of healing.[h]

Seven Things God Hates
16 There are six evils God truly hates
and a seventh[i] that is an abomination to him:
17 Putting others down while considering yourself superior,
spreading lies and rumors,
spilling the blood of the innocent,
18 plotting evil in your heart toward another,
gloating over doing what’s plainly wrong,
19 spouting lies in false testimony,
and stirring up strife between friends.[j]
These are entirely despicable to God!
20 My son, obey your father’s godly instruction
and follow your mother’s life-giving teaching.[k]
21 Fill your heart with their advice
and let your life be shaped by what they’ve taught you.[l]
22 Their wisdom will guide you wherever you go
and keep you from bringing harm to yourself.
Their instruction will whisper to you at every sunrise
and direct you through a brand-new day.
23 For truth[m] is a bright beam of light
shining into every area of your life,
instructing and correcting you to discover the ways to godly living.

Truth or Consequences
24–25 Truth will protect you from immorality
and from the promiscuity of another man’s wife.
Your heart won’t be enticed by her flatteries[n]
or lust over her beauty—
nor will her suggestive ways conquer you.
26 Prostitutes reduce a man to poverty,[o]
and the adulteress steals your soul—
she may even cost you your life![p]
27 For how can a man light his pants on fire and not be burned?
28 Can he walk over hot coals of fire[q] and not blister his feet?
29 What makes you think that you can sleep with another man’s wife
and not get caught?
Do you really think you’ll get away with it?
Don’t you know it will ruin your life?
30 You can almost excuse a thief if he steals to feed his own family.
31 But if he’s caught, he still has to pay back what he stole sevenfold;
his punishment and fine will cost him greatly.
32 Don’t be so stupid as to think
you can get away with your adultery.
It will destroy your life,[r] and you’ll pay the price
for the rest of your days.
33 You’ll discover what humiliation, shame,
and disgrace are all about,
for no one will ever let you forget what you’ve done.
34 A husband’s jealousy makes a man furious;
he won’t spare you when he comes to take revenge.
35 Try all you want to talk your way out of it—
offer him a bribe and see if you can manipulate him
with your money.
Nothing will turn him aside
when he comes to you with vengeance in his eyes!

Image courtesy of Used with permission.

My children, pay close attention to what I say; concentrate on my wisdom, so that you’ll acquire good judgment and understanding, and know what to say, and when to speak. Don’t be like adulterers, like people who break faith with those who trust them: their lips drip honey and their words are smoother than oil, but their end is as bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Their feet lead them down to death, their steps take the road to the grave; they ignore advice on the road to life; and they wander, lost and uncomprehending. So hear me well, my children, and listen closely; don’t wander from the words of my mouth: keep your distance from these people; don’t even approach the door of their house, or you’ll surrender your integrity to others, and your reputation to the merciless; for then strangers will acquire your wealth, and your labors will enrich someone else’s household.

All you’ll have in the end are your groans when your body and flesh are wasted, and you say, “How I hated my lessons! How I hated to be corrected! I wouldn’t listen to the voice of my teachers, wouldn’t pay attention to my instructors. Now I’m all but ruined—and the whole neighborhood is watching!”

So drink water from your own tap, water that runs from your own faucet. And don’t let your river flow into the streets, or let just anyone drink from your streams; let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers. May your fountain flow freely, to bless both you and your beloved—someone who loves you and fills you with joy. May your affection always fill you with mutual bliss; may you always delight in your love for each other. Why be infatuated, my children, with people who deceive those who trust them? Why embrace a false-hearted lover?

For our ways are always in YHWH’s sight, and God watches our paths. Corrupt people are trapped by their own evil deeds, and they’re caught in the nets of their own sin. They die because of too little discipline—and too much foolishness.

(The Inclusive Bible)

Image courtesy of Used with permission.

If you love Wisdom
and don’t reject her,
she will watch over you.

The best thing about Wisdom
is Wisdom herself;
good sense is more important
than anything else.

If you value Wisdom
and hold tightly to her,
great honors will be yours.

It will be like wearing
a glorious crown
of beautiful flowers.
(Proverbs 4:6-9, CEV)

We could all use some extra wisdom these days. It’s hard to think clearly when we are stressed out, hurting, or anxious about the future. The book of Proverbs is a biblical storehouse of wisdom. It contains instruction on everything from handling money, relationships, diet, work, sex, leadership, raising children, and cultivating healthy attitudes. Over and over again it insists that the way we respond to God is the most important thing we do.

Eugene Peterson writes, in his introduction to Proverbs in The Message, “Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves.” In our life-turned-upside-down conditions we need to seek Wisdom from its source: God’s Word. In my experience, when I have asked God for wisdom about a situation, God provides the wisdom I need.

Where do you need wisdom these days? Join us this month as we read through Proverbs. Some proverbs might sound strange to modern ears. While this was written for a particular audience thousands of years ago, themes and deep truths still shine through like nuggets of gold. We will read the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month. Today is the 4th, so we read Proverbs 4. Most days will just be a Proverb, but once a week the University Ministries team will provide a reflection to help us engage one of the Proverbs for the week. We’d love to hear your thoughts as you read along with us! Stay in touch on our Facebook and Instagram pages, where we will be posting some nuggets along the way.

—Laura Kraybill Campus Co-Pastor and Outreach Chaplain

Your road, it led me down to the Red Sea
The waters trembled, and you made a way
You raised Your arm and led them to dry land
Lord, will You hear us when we say
That our hearts cannot be silent?
… Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

—Bifrost Arts

Bifrost Arts sings Our Song in the Night,” a contemporary setting of Psalm 77. The Psalm begins with lament: “I think of God and I moan. I meditate and my spirit faints” (v.3) and ends in praise:

I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; 
    I will remember your wonders of old. 
I will meditate on all your work, 
    and muse on your mighty deeds. 
Your way, O God, is holy. 
    What god is so great as our God? 
You are the God who works wonders;
(v.11-14, NRSV)

In this Easter season, we celebrate the wondrous work of the Resurrection and grapple with the realities of death and sin that still hold sway. The psalmist invites us into honest lament but also reminds us of God’s faithfulness. God brought our biblical forebearers through impossible situations. Jesus conquered death through resurrection. These signposts from history are reasons to trust in God today.

How has God brought you through hard times? When your spirit is faint recount the deeds of the Lord. What God has done in the past God will surely do in the future. With this assurance, how can our hearts then be silent?

God who works wonders, we praise your Holy Name. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 
Image courtesy of Used with permission.

Acts 1:6-11 (NIV)

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

The book of Acts is the sequel to Luke’s Gospel and we learn how the church formed after the resurrection of Jesus. His disciples still had many questions about the future and how everything would happen as Jesus told them. Jesus assured them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them as they waited in Jerusalem. When the disciples asked Jesus about his coming back to earth to bring peace and justice, He told them not to worry about the future. He tells them to focus on the present and to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them and to spread the good news that the resurrected Chris was alive. Let us be reminded that today is the day that the Lord had made, and to focus on drawing closer to the Lord today.

“Lord, help us!” Let us also remember that the resurrected Jesus does not need to be awakened, but is alive and near. He is also able to calm our fears and walk with us through the storms of life. Be blessed.

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  

(Read the full story from Luke 24:13-31) 

I am not a patient person. I want this crisis to be over now, now, now. Projections for a return to “normal” feel distant. Leaders seem to move like molasses in response to urgent needs. I’m frustrated by the ways this pandemic is hurting the marginalized in our communities—black and brown folks, the poor, the imprisoned. North Park lost another student, Joseph “Big Fella” Wilson, to COVID-19 inside Stateville prison last week. When will policies change so that the most vulnerable don’t always bear the brunt of crises? Will justice ever prevail? Sometimes it seems like a lost cause. 

Things felt bleak for the two disciples walking towards the village of Emmaus. Jesus, the one they hoped would overturn Roman occupation, was executed by the Romans two days earlier. Hopes dashed, in fear for their lives, they didn’t recognize the Risen Lord when he joined them on the path. But Jesus wasn’t in a rush to make his presence known. “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” he asked. After a snarky “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem that does not know the things that have taken place?” the disciples poured out their stories of heartbreak. Jesus countered with a different story–how Scripture foretold all of what happened, including his suffering and glory. When he broke bread with them at dinner later that evening, suddenly they recognized who it was. Jesus had been there all along!  

Why and When questions about the Coronavirus crisis may not serve us much these days. A better question might be HowHow is Christ showing up for us on the road? How are our hearts and minds being transformed as we dig into Scripture, as we pour out our stories of heartbreak and healing to one another and to God? How can we share Christ’s presence with others?   

In our impatience for life to return to “normal” let’s not miss the small miracles happening before our very eyes. Then, when this rocky road ends, we too will tell of how Jesus had been there all along.  

—Laura Kraybill 

Image courtesy of Used with permission. 

Today’s devotional comes from Psalm 46:1–11. This Psalm is often termed “song of ascent”—a pilgrimage psalm sung by those climbing up the hill into Jerusalem. As we journey through life, let us remember that God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble and great loss.

Psalm 46:1-11 (NIV)

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[d] with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for being our Protector and Refuge. We pray that You comfort all who are grieving the loss of family members, friends, and jobs during this time. Help our students, faculty, staff, and families of the North Park community to draw closer to You, as we put our full trust in You. May Your Holy Spirit lead and guide us each day. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, 
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb.
— John 20:1

While it was still dark.
While it was still night.
While she could not see.
While she thought death held sway.
While she grieved.
While she wept.
While it was still dark, resurrection began.
— Jan Richardson

(© Jan Richardson.

The Resurrection began in the dark. How could Mary have known what life was stirring as she trudged toward his empty tomb? How could she have recognized Jesus standing there when her eyes were dim with grief?

When all hope seemed lost Christ was birthing something new.

When fear and grief grip our hearts Christ is birthing something new.

When our lives are turned upside down Christ is birthing something new.

When love spreads faster than any virus Christ is birthing something new.

May we have eyes to see our Risen Lord in the dark and trust that the One whom death could not defeat carries us into the light of a New Day. Amen.

— Laura Kraybill

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan. Used with permission.

There will be no CollegeLife video for Easter Sunday, yet we’d like to encourage those who may not have a church they call home or don’t yet have plans for Easter Sunday, to join Stephen Kelly and Willow Chicago on Sunday.

This Sunday, April 12, please join Willow Chicago at 9:00 or 11:00am CST to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and declare the hope we have in him.

You can find these worship opportunities here.

Read Luke 22:1-23 

This past Sunday North Park Seminary student Ronald “Rusty” Rice, a member of the School of Restorative Arts who was incarcerated at Stateville Prison, died from COVID-19. Rusty was one of a number of incarcerated persons who contracted Coronavirus in the past weeks. “Rusty was a secondyear student, an up and coming Writing Advisor, and a member of (Re)story, an extracurricular performance arts cohort. He was well-regarded by faculty, staff, and students alike!” writes Rev. Dr. Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom, Interim Dean of Faculty for the Seminary and Director of the School of Restorative Arts. While our community grieves the loss of Rusty, let us pray for the wellbeing of our students at Stateville and all those imprisoned.  

Painting of Christ looking through barbed wire fence
Featured Artwork: © Christ of Maryknoll, Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, Courtesy of Trinity Stores,, 800.699.4482. Used with permission.

The icon Christ of Maryknoll depicts Christ behind barbed wire. Christ stands with the isolated, sick, and imprisoned. This Thursday of Holy Week we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples before he was arrested and crucified. Even as he shared this last meal, Jesus knew he would be betrayed into the hands of state authorities by his closest companions. Despite rejection, Christ offered himself to the disciples and offers himself to us today for the forgiveness of our sins.   

Christ of the least and betrayed, thank you for giving yourself so fully to us. Forgive us for our blindness to the needs of others. Heal what is broken in our hearts and communities. Draw close to all who are isolated, sick, or imprisoned, especially our sisters and brothers at Stateville Prison. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.  

—Laura Kraybill 

John 12:12-16  (NIV)

12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt. 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

This week Christians all over the world will celebrate Holy Week, also known as Passion Week. It is the last week of Jesus’ physical life on earth. Jesus begins his week as the Prince of Peace and ends it as an executed criminal. Jesus experiences confusion, betrayal, danger, sacred meals, and death. It is the most crucial moment in Jesus’ earthly ministry because it displays the powerful resurrection of Christ and the hope He offers to all of humanity.

This Lent season has been one that we will never forget. At this time our world needs hope and healing. The Covid-19 virus has caused death world-wide, and has caused fear and many uncertainties.  Jesus came into this world to heal and to give hope. Jesus calls us to bring our problems and fears to Him. When we look at Jesus’ final week on earth, it may seem as though truth, goodness, righteousness, and God have lost it all in this one week confrontation. However, this is not the end of Jesus’ story and for all those who believe in the power of His salvation. The resurrection of Christ is the pinnacle of the Christian faith and gives Christians both power and hope. Let us remember this week that Christ began His walk through Jerusalem humbly on a colt, but with His ultimate sacrifice of paying for our sins, He will rise as King next to the Father, and with His Hands open and outstretched, He invites us to journey with Him for true hope and healing. Be blessed.

John 12:12-16 
12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. (NRSV)

Many of us wrestle with fear as we hear grim projections of Coronavirus spread. Health analysts predict that deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. will peak in about two weeks. How do we shout “Hosanna” amidst such dire circumstances?

Jesus knew his own death was imminent as he rode triumphally into Jerusalem. Palms waving and cloaks thrown on the road, the same crowds that shouted “Hosanna!” would cry out for his crucifixion in less than a week. Yet Jesus was so confident in God’s plan for his life that he was able to face into it fearlessly.

Like the disciples, we do not understand all that is to come. But we, too, will look back and see how Jesus was glorified. In stories of neighbors reaching out, front line industry workers risking their lives to save others, bonds of connection deepening across screens and phones, hearts and hands opening to the love of Christ, hosannas are echoing throughout the land.

We shout “Hosanna!” because God has a plan for our lives.
We shout “Hosanna!” because we have a King who rides before us.
We shout “Hosanna!” because the power of death does not defeat the power of God in Christ.
We shout “Hosanna!” because, if we were silent, “the stones would shout out” (Luke 19:40).

King Jesus, you lead the way through death into life. Give us eyes to see your glory all around. Open our hearts and hands to care for those in need and guide our leaders in wisdom and compassion. Loosen our tongues to shout “Hosanna” in all circumstances. We entrust our lives to you, our King and Savior. Amen.

—By Laura Kraybill

Today’s devotional comes from Psalm 91:1-4. This Psalm is considered a hymn of praise to God for his greatness and power. When we look to God as our Refuge and see Him as our Protector, we then are eager to surrender our lives to His care and guidance with total trust.

Psalm 91:1-4 (The Message)[1]

You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for being our Protector and Refuge. We pray that You comfort all of us during this time. Help our students, faculty, staff, and North Park community to draw closer to You, as we put our full trust in You. May Your Holy Spirit lead and guide us each day. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[1] “BibleGateway.” Psalms 91 The Message (MSG) — Bible Gateway,

Matthew 22:34-39 (NIV) The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

Last week my good friend Matt Vega, a PhD student at the University of Chicago, shared with me some sound practical advice during this quarantine season that many of us are experiencing. He described that stress can weaken our immune system, and that caring for yourself through watching a comedy show, playing games, engaging in exercise, and eating healthy is a way to care for our health. My family and I have taken daily walks around the block, hosted online dance parties, and video-chatted with family and friends coast to coast. As I’ve listened to many great sermons and advice from various pastors, I am reminded that not only is care for our physical and mental health important, but also care for our spiritual health. How can the Church (body of Christ) stay spiritually healthy during this time?

In Matthew 22:34-39, Jesus is being tested with a question by an expert in the law. This religious leader asks Jesus, out of the 613 laws in the Torah, which one is the greatest commandment? Jesus answers him by quoting two scriptures from the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Leviticus 19:18 says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Jesus breaks the commandment into two basic concepts: Love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Loving ourselves means worshiping God through singing, reading our Bibles daily, and praying, all which help us develop a deeper relationship with God. From this love for ourself will extend into our love of others. This might mean to call and check on our family and friends to make sure they have everything they need, that they’re well. Maybe leave groceries for our elders or those who have higher health risks in our communities. Maybe send a gift card to a family or those in need in your community or church.

The two greatest things that the Church must do during this time, in order to stay spiritually healthy, is to love the Lord God with all of our strength  and to love our neighbors around us just as we love ourselves. Now is the time for us as the Church to be the body of Christ and to put those sermons into action.  As we love the Lord God through our worship and actions, we will be the Church that the world so greatly needs at this time. Be blessed.

In lieu of CollegeLife tonight, gather virtually with us via Vimeo with a message from Amber Jipp, Spiritual Life and CollegeLife Coordinator (2-3 minutes), followed by a Hope Worship Medley with Willow Chicago (12 minutes) and a sermon from Psalm 23 from Pastor Eric Flood of South Park Church (Park Ridge, IL) (20-30 minutes); finally, we will share our benediction (1 min).

Follow us on Instagram @northparkumin and Facebook.

And just in case you haven’t seen this yet: NPUMin #COVID19 Spotify Playlist

I’m walking to the park more frequently these days. It helps me stay centered amidst a world thrown into upheaval by COVID-19. On my walk this morning I noticed a small patch of purple on the green lawn. Crocuses had sprouted outside the borders of the nearby flower bed. Stopping to admire the vibrant blooms, Jesus’ admonition, “consider the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:28) sprung to mind. If God clothes a flower of the field “which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” Ouch. How well have I been trusting God to provide for my current and future needs?

In a time of uncertainty and scarcity of certain resources we are tempted to take on a scarcity mindset. Anxiety rises as we fear a future of not-enough. Not enough health, not enough jobs, not enough money, not enough love, not enough fill-in-the-blank. While concerns about how COVID-19 will affect—and is already affecting—our world are valid, Jesus’ words remind us of God’s unfailing care for even the smallest aspects of creation.

Step outside today and notice how the earth proclaims God’s care. Ask God to speak through the sights, sounds and smells of creation. In addition to being good for mental and physical health, spending time with God like this can reawaken a sense of gratitude for the gifts God provides today and every day. As the psalmist declares,

“Shout to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of God’s Name–give glorious praise! Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! Your enemies cower before your great strength! The whole earth worships you and sings praises to you–all creation praises your Name!’” (Psalm 66:1-4)

Stock photo from Used with permission.  

Today’s devotional is a prayer that comes to us from The Book of Common Prayer (2007)1. As a North Park community, let us continue to work together and seek the Lord’s face during these challenging times.

“Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread  which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

1 The Book of Common Prayer. Oxford University Press New York, 2007

Three-dimensional art piece made out of strips of gold and blue paper.
Kraybill, Andrea. Exodus. Paper, gold leaf, watercolor. Used with permission. @andreakraybill

My sister is an LA-based artist who works with paper to create three-dimensional art pieces. Exodus portrays the parting of the Red Sea recounted in Exodus 14:21–22:

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. (NRSV)

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We realize that many of you may not have a church home or perhaps your home church is not able to offer online streaming during this season of social distancing. With this in mind, each Sunday we will be offering you an opportunity to worship virtually with a local, Chicago church via link. This week, we welcome you to Willow Chicago. 

Also, in lieu of CollegeLife each week, Amber Jipp, our Spiritual Formation and CollegeLife Coordinator, will offer a brief word of encouragement for our community.

Finally, please worship with us via the Spotify Playlist “NPUMin #COVID19. 

Mark 4:35-41 (NIV) Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

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