11 Verses for the New School Year

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By Jean Boonstra

I love the fall and everything it brings—cooler days, colorful foliage, steady routines and all things pumpkin-flavored! As summer gives way to fall, I reflect on the balance of the year, put my schedule in order and have a second go at all of my New Year's resolutions. Maybe it is the childhood memory of new, unmarked notebooks and still-sharp pencils that still make this time of year feel like a time of beginning—a chance to start over again.  

Hashtag Christianity

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By Shawn Boonstra

One candidate would present a set of ideas for an hour or three, while the audience would listen intently, and then his opponent would present a counterargument for a number of hours as well.  

The Witch of Endor

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By Alex Rodriguez

What would you have done if you were in his shoes? The book of Jonah tells a story of God declaring to Nineveh that they would be destroyed in 40 days. Nowhere in the text does it indicate that they had the option to repent. Clearly God had passed judgment on the wicked city and its destruction was inevitable. Or was it? In response to the startling news, Nineveh’s king did something radical. He stepped off the throne and put on sackcloth and ashes. He then commanded that all in the city do likewise and declared a fast for man and beast. They were not to eat or drink!

Chosen

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By Jean Boonstra

In the midst of another busy summer season, I've been reflecting on a lot of things. Things like my never-shrinking to-do list at work and my weekly inability to plan a meal menu and shopping list instead of creatively "winging it." I've spent many quiet hours in prayer, searching for the answer to the question of where I need to focus my limited time and energy. In the process, I've studied the lives of a few people that I think had a clear focus in life. The first is Elijah.

The Abomination of Desolation

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By Shawn Boonstra

In the ancient world, the captivity of the sanctuary furniture and vessels was a potent symbol: the Babylonian gods were being touted as far more powerful than the God of Abraham. How else could you explain that God's temple vessels were now subject to Babylonian deities? That was the ultimate humiliation: your God had, symbolically, become a servant of their gods.

Uncalculated Actions

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By Kurt Johnson

The guides explain in some detail the intricacies of the prophecy and step-by-step leads one through the information necessary to understand the meaning, while ending up focusing on the event of the judgment. 

On Holy Ground

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By Alex Rodriguez

Nearly 20 years ago, I donned a police officer's uniform for the very first time. I spent the first few months riding with other officers. Then one day, it was my turn to solo. I recall having a healthy balance of nervousness and excitement. I was excited to be on my own. I was a full-fledged officer and could now make decisions without having to ask my partner. On the other hand, I did not have a partner in the car with me. The years of wisdom—which I had learned to rely on—were gone. Now I was on my own. That was a bit frightening. 

Activity or Achievement?

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By Jean Boonstra

I tackle the flower beds that line the driveway, pulling up weeds and trimming dead leaves and flowers. I then move, systematically, to the flower beds lining the front walk. I give the flower beds on the south side of the lawn some extra careful attention since they border our neighbor's pristine green grassy lawn. I spend the better part of an hour in the front, before moving to the back yard. I'm far less thorough back there. I usually assess the area of greatest need, tackle it and head back inside knowing the back yard really deserves a dedicated day of my time.

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