Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email, provide your email address.
Twenty minutes into a flight from New York to San Antonio, the flight plan changed as calm gave way to chaos. When one of the plane's engines failed, debris from the engine smashed through a window causing the cabin to decompress. Sadly, several passengers were injured and one person was killed. Had not a calm, capable pilot been in the cockpit-one trained as a Navy fighter pilot-things could have been tragically worse. The headline in our local paper read, "In Amazing Hands."
In Psalm 31, David revealed that he knew something about the Lord's amazing, caring hands. That's why he could confidently say, "Into your hands I commit my spirit" (v. 5). David believed that the Lord could be trusted even when life got bumpy. Because he was targeted by unfriendly forces, life was very uncomfortable for David. Though vulnerable, he was not without hope. In the midst of harassment David could breathe sighs of relief and rejoice because his faithful, loving God was his source of confidence (vv. 5-7).
Perhaps you find yourself in a season of life when things are coming at you from every direction, and it's difficult to see what's ahead. In the midst of uncertainty, confusion, and chaos one thing remains absolutely certain: those who are secure in the Lord are in amazing hands.
Prayer for Today
Father, help me to be encouraged knowing that Jesus prayed Psalm 31:5 when He was on the cross. In the midst of pain and suffering, He committed His life into Your hands. Amen.
See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
A couple weeks ago now, I got to go to career day at River Trail Middle School. I was eager to share about my own job, and just as eager to encourage the kids to consider non-profit work. I was correct in guessing that many of the parents represented careers in high-skilled for-profit jobs and it might be a rare opportunity to challenge these young people to think more broadly and imaginatively about how they would not only make a living, but make the world a better place.
Most of the students were familiar with the pressures to determine what they are good at and can make money doing. And most of them are familiar with the concept of doing "what makes you happy," so it never feels like work. I told them neither of those worldly pressures is a whole truth. When I asked how many kids in each session had mystique interests and skills, almost every hand went up. These gifted and bright young people are good at many things, what's come to be known as multi-potentialities. And when I told them that even adults with jobs they love have bad days and sometimes it's hard every day and they still love their job and life, they seemed surprised.
As we talked about the countless hats I wear in my career as teacher, preacher, counselor, translator, social media coordinator, graphic designer, service and volunteer coordinator, travel agent, medic, and inter-faith ambassador, I encouraged them to look for jobs where they could use many of their skills and could contribute to making their community and world better, whether for profit or not. As we celebrate our graduates this Sunday, I hope you'll join me in asking good questions of them. What are they doing next? (Don't assume college and grad school and career) What passions and skills do they have or are they developing? (Not just what classes they're taking or internships they're doing or their majors.) What ways do you want to make the world better or contribute to the lives of others? (Not what job they think they can get.) Encourage them to find a faith community and make sure they know JCPC is their safe harbor as they venture out and explore.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to be an encouragement and challenge to our young people. By your spirit, let me imagine with them a future of service and creativity far beyond job. Help me dream of your call on their lives and bless them as they struggle in their search and training. Amen.
This Sunday is Graduate Recognition. No doubt many of our graduates have already heard a commencement speech. A while back I read about someone who went through an experience that changed his life. It was Stephen King, the author of many scary books and creator of some scary movies. Back in 2001, he was asked to give the commencement address at Vassar College.
He began by saying this: "I have to tell you the scary truth, because that's my job. And you knew I was the scary guy when you picked me for this job, so deal with it." But he went on to talk about what happened to him after he was hit by a van at night and left by the side of the road for dead:
What will you do? Well, I'll tell you one thing you're not going to do, and that's take it with you. I'm worth I don't exactly know how many millions of dollars . . . and a couple of years ago I found out what 'you can't take it with you' means. I found out while I was lying in the ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg poking out the side of my jeans like the branch of a tree taken down in a thunderstorm. I had a MasterCard in my wallet, but when you're lying in the ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts MasterCard.
For Stephen King, that was a life-changing revelation - that when we face the end of our lives and what it all means, how much money or credit we have, really means nothing. We might have gained the whole world - but real life, which nurtures our souls, is more than that.
Jesus sums it up this way: "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36, NIV) It is more than "what's in your wallet" that counts in life!
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, reveal to us what is really important in life. Help us to use that revelation to guide how we live our lives today - serving others and You. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.