The words of Jeremiah

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January 21, 2019

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Phil Smith starts off a three-week collection of reflections on the words of the prophet Jeremiah with a reminder that saying yes to God’s call doesn’t guarantee earthly blessings: “Jeremiah obeyed God and suffered for it.” And “it’s not hard to see why. God’s messages through Jeremiah confronted his nation with its sins, starting with idolatry.”

There are myriad ways of attempting to understand the idolatry Jeremiah addresses in light of contemporary culture. Phil simply suggests that idolatry comes out of our attempts to control our destiny – or to control God.

These attempts at guiding, maneuvering, or controlling God aren’t necessarily power plays. Sometimes we’re simply afraid.

This morning, I’m trying to focus on and sit with the things that frighten me, the things that make me anxious, the things that keep me awake at night.

What about you? What are you afraid of?

Phil reminds us that God  “freed Israel from slavery, ... protected Israel in the wilderness, and ... planted Israel in the land of promise.”

And I’m prompted to pray something simple this morning, “God, help me.” 

Maybe you’ll join me.

Maybe you can pray this prayer too.

Maybe, together, we might remember that even though “no one can see or control God,” neither can anyone or anything “separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39).

No matter what you face, I hope you feel loved today.

Eric Muhr


Seeds of hope is the three-year campaign to fund the ministry of Barclay Press so we can continue to do the work of developing new titles, supporting small churches, and balancing the budget. As of this morning, we’ve received $390 toward our 2019 goal of $56,000. Your support in 2018 totaled just over $50,000!





 
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To let ourselves be loved

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January 14, 2019

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Tim Almquist remembers a friend who suggested at a church youth gathering “that our first priority in following Jesus is not to love God.... Before we can truly love God or love our neighbor, our first step ... is to let ourselves be loved by God.”

How does that feel to you?

I first read Tim’s reflection in October, when we were proofreading the winter quarter of Fruit of the Vine, and I had to read through it several times. I knew that what Tim wrote is true, but I felt internal resistance to this line every time I read over it. I wondered why – what was it within me, exactly, that was having trouble with Tim’s words? Do you have trouble with these words? Or are they easy?

“Many of us attempt to order our loves and categorize our allegiances,” Tim continues. “We say things like: God first, family second, friends third.... By focusing only on pleasing God or meeting the needs of others without first embracing God’s love for ourselves, we ironically engage in a kind of self-worship. We believe we are the source of love, not God.”

I agree with Tim, but I knew this wasn’t why I was stuck. The reason I had trouble with Tim’s claim that “our first step ... is to let ourselves be loved” is because I wasn’t convinced I was lovable. But it was buried down deep enough that, at first, I couldn’t identify it as the source of the friction I was feeling.

I know that God loves me. But what does that mean? How does it feel? Do you feel loved by God?

Tim offers a reminder from 1 John that “our ability to love one another is made possible, not by our own efforts, but by God who first loved us and who, in the end, is love.” If we know what love is – if we love others – this, then, is proof that we are loved by God, no matter how we feel, because God is “the true, unending source of love.”

I hope you feel loved today,
Eric Muhr


Seeds of hope is the three-year campaign to fund the ministry of Barclay Press so we can continue to do the work of developing new titles, supporting small churches, and balancing the budget. As of this morning, we’ve received $355 toward our 2019 goal of $56,000. Your support in 2018 totaled just over $50,000!





 
BARCLAY
PRESS

211 N. Meridian St. #101
Newberg, OR 97132
503.538.9775


www.barclaypress.com

Seeds of Hope
Copyright © 2019 Barclay Press, All rights reserved.


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Moments and messages

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January 7, 2019

I wrote my very first Long Story Short and sent it out to just over 100 people on January 4, 2016. That was only three years ago, but as I read back over the news, announcements, and thoughts I've shared here over the years, I find some moments and messages that give me hope for this coming year:

January 4, 2016 – Paul Almquist writes in this morning’s Fruit of the Vine that the best way to battle pride might be to “take on a season of service, especially hidden service.” Paul follows that suggestion with a question: “Have you ever done some kind of service and felt that you were not shown the appreciation you deserve?” I find in this question both a challenge – to do what needs to be done without expectation – and a reminder of the many decades offered in service by good people like Dan McCracken and so many others, service that makes it possible for me to be here, at Barclay Press, sending you this letter. 

February 13, 2017 – It was while eating a bowl of ice cream that Linda Michael had her moment of awakening. In the middle of all her worries, her busyness, “and a hundred other interrupters,” Linda realized that she “hadn’t really tasted” the ice cream. So she slowed down. “The rest of that ice cream was sweet, smooth, rich, cold. The nuts were crisp and coated in crunchy, dark chocolate, the marshmallow cream soft and sweet.... I experienced the flavors, textures, temperatures.” Linda continues, “We get so busy with life that we forget to live ... not noticing the joys of each moment, the little presents from God that each day holds.” We have to choose to slow down.

September 17, 2018 – Chuck Orwiler notes that in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus “tells a group of people, who want to be his followers, that they are a people of little faith. This was not an insult.” I stopped and read that sentence a second time: “This was not an insult.” I feel exposed when Jesus reveals the truth about who I am, but it’s not a personal attack. How do you react? Are you defensive? Or eager to hear what comes next? Chuck suggests that in the presence of Jesus – our fears disarmed – we might humbly ask, “Please help me know what to do.” And Jesus responds that if we have “but a mustard seed of faith,” it is enough.

Thank you,
Eric Muhr


Seeds of hope is the three-year campaign to fund the ministry of Barclay Press so we can continue to do the work of developing new titles, supporting small churches, and balancing the budget. As of this morning, we’ve received $205 toward our 2019 goal of $56,000. Your support in 2018 totaled just over $50,000!





 
BARCLAY
PRESS

211 N. Meridian St. #101
Newberg, OR 97132
503.538.9775


www.barclaypress.com

Seeds of Hope
Copyright © 2019 Barclay Press, All rights reserved.


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