You Are Precious In The Sight if The Great I AM – Remember…
“You are precious in my sight… precious my child.”
The Lord spoke to me while I was praying this morning – tell my children they are precious in my sight.
The world will bring doubt, fear, and calamity – yet the Lord has set you above all the fear and above the challenges in the world. I saw the Lord looking over his children and felt the love in his heart. His eyes are upon you – focused upon you – he adores YOU child of God.
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the majority Monday in a decision requiring unanimous verdicts in state criminal cases, but it was his citation of Roe v. Wade that left a few court observers wondering what he meant.
Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas didn’t mince words in criticizing Roe.
The justices, in a 6-3 decision, overturned a 1972 Supreme Court case in ruling that the Sixth Amendment requires unanimous verdicts. The case involved a Louisiana man who was convicted of murder on a 10-2 verdict.
Much of the discussion among the justices focused on the legal doctrine of stare decisis, a Latin term meaning “to stand by things decided.” In essence, it’s the doctrine of precedent and is often discussed when the Supreme Court overturns a past case.
“The doctrine of stare decisis does not mean, of course, that the Court should never overrule erroneous precedents,” Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion. “All Justices now on this Court agree that it is sometimes appropriate for the Court to overrule erroneous decisions. Indeed, in just the last few Terms, every current Member of this Court has voted to overrule multiple constitutional precedents.”
Kavanaugh then listed seven recent cases.
His mention of Roe v. Wade came in the next paragraph after he wrote, “Some of the Court’s most notable and consequential decisions have entailed overruling precedent.” Kavanaugh then referenced Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, a 1992 case in which the justices overturned much of the Roe framework but upheld legalized abortion. He was not on the court at the time.
“The Court expressly rejected Roe’s trimester framework, and the Court expressly overruled two other important abortion precedents, Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., … and Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.” In Akron (1983) and Thornburgh (1986), pro-lifers lost.
Significantly, Kavanaugh’s citation of Roe didn’t come in the paragraph in which he mentioned “erroneous precedents.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined the majority opinion, was blunter in criticizing Roe. Thomas is a longtime opponent of Roe and voted with the minority in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey. He would have overturned Roe in that ‘92 case.
Thomas wrote a concurring opinion and listed three “incorrect decisions” he said used a faulty interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Those were Obergefell v. Hodges (which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide), Roe v. Wade, and Dred Scott v. Sandford (which held that slaves were property under the Fifth Amendment).
It is not known whether pro-lifers have the votes to overturn Roe on the nine-member court, although the support of Thomas and Kavanaugh in any anti-Roe case would be essential.
Focus on the Family has launched a free streaming service for families stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, while VidAngel has extended its free access through the end of April.
Focus on the Family’s new platform, called Focus@Home, includes well-known Focus on the Family video content, such as Adventures in Odyssey and McGee and Me, as well as feature films like Every Boy Needs a Hero and Mully. Additional content will be added in the coming weeks.
The free platform is available at FocusontheFamily.com/Streaming. A sample of Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey audio series is available at Focus@Home. The full Adventures in Odyssey audio library can be accessed at OACLUB.org, where a 28-day free trial is available.
“During this pandemic, we know a lot of people are struggling to find creative ways to engage their families and their kids, which is why we’re dedicated to offering resources through this platform at no charge,” said Focus on the Family president Jim Daly. “Apart from our faith, nothing is more important than family in times like this. Together we can make the most of it and create a stronger family unit than ever before.”
Meanwhile, VidAngel has extended its free offer through April 30. The streaming service offers titles such as The Chosen, The Riot and the Dance, Chasing American Legends and Dry Bar Comedy. VidAngel allows families to skip objectionable content on Netflix and Amazon Prime. (A subscription to either Netflix or Prime is required.) Visit VidAngel.com.
“During the last two weeks, we’ve been grateful that so many families have accessed VidAngel and enjoyed bringing us into their homes,” said Neal Harmon, CEO of VidAngel. “… Like so many wonderful American companies, we’re so happy to be able to pitch in some small way to make this difficult time a little easier.”
Megan Botel & Isaiah Murtaugh | Religion News Service | Wednesday, April 15, 2020
LOS ANGELES (RNS) — At the height of the influenza pandemic in 1918, the Rev. John Misao Yamazaki stopped holding services at St. Mary’s Japanese Mission, the Episcopal church in Los Angeles he helped found more than a decade prior. Before mandatory quarantines were enacted, Yamazaki began visiting homes to pray for sick children and families.
More than a century later, in the midst of another global pandemic, the Rev. Laurel Coote, Yamazaki’s successor at what is now St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, stands in the quiet sanctuary livestreaming images of its empty pews and stained glass windows to her congregation via Facebook.
“I felt compelled to come into the sanctuary so that I could sit in its beauty and its silence and stillness. And I know that you’re missing it too, and so I thought, let me share it with you today,” Coote says in the video. “Christ is alive in this holy place.”
Historical records unearthed by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles show scenes of quarantine in the winter of 1918 and 1919 similar to the ones unfolding today: church doors shuttered, congregants in masks, clerics visiting sick patients. The experiences of older, traditional churches like St. Mary’s, logged in yellowed histories and faded black-and-white photographs, show how American religious institutions once weathered a crisis strikingly similar to this one.
“The example that was set by congregations and individuals during the 1918 pandemic has been a source of encouragement in the present time,” said Canon Robert Williams, the historian for the Episcopal Church’s Los Angeles Diocese. “A number of our great-grandparents withstood the influenza outbreak, and their example shows us that we can withstand the challenges of the present day.”
Los Angeles escaped the first wave of influenza in early 1918, but a second, more deadly wave of the disease swept across the country that fall. In September 1918, a pair of local military bases went into quarantine, and on Oct. 11, government officials ordered the shutdown of schools and public gatherings. Then, as now, shutdown measures appeared to work: By the end of the epidemic, Los Angeles had 494 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 673 per 100,000 in San Francisco.
Church records cite the home visits made by Yamazaki — a Japanese immigrant himself — as an important part of the church’s foundation. Many of the Japanese American families he visited had never met a Christian priest before the pandemic, but his willingness to pray with them convinced some to join the congregation. Two decades later, the mission would go on to help local families weather Japanese internment during World War II.
After World War II, when many of those interned returned to LA, St. Mary’s became a refuge for Japanese Americans who had sold their homes before internment. The church opened up a hostel for the otherwise homeless.
Today, much of St. Mary’s English-speaking congregation is still Japanese American. But when local immigrant Mexicans, mostly from Oaxaca, began using St. Mary’s facilities as a community center eight years ago, Coote’s predecessor added a Spanish Sunday service. Today it is as large as the English service.
And amid the coronavirus pandemic, St. Mary’s Church has again expanded its community outreach. To assist the community’s large homeless population, Coote has extended the hours of a “safe parking” program in the church lot for people living in their vehicles from overnight to 24 hours. The church staff has also raised a special discretionary fund to help its most affected congregants pay bills.
“Both then and now, it’s a case of neighbors helping neighbors and congregations abiding by the requirements for closures and social distancing,” Williams said.
But as churches move on from Holy Week and Easter, Yamazaki’s home visits have been replaced by Coote’s internet-borne videos.
Before coronavirus, only 22% of Protestant churches said they livestreamed entire services, according to polling from LifeWay Research. Now, 4 out of 5 churches are adjusting the way they do ministry and 45% planned to livestream Easter services, a recent Barna poll shows. As faith communities around the country close their physical doors, many are turning to social media and streams to connect with their congregations.
Heidi Campbell, vice president of the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture, has watched 20 different church livestreams a week since the closures began. She sees a consistent theme in churches’ strategies going digital.
“Right now, people want relationships, they want connection,” Campbell said.
The online shift, Coote believes, could change the way faith is practiced moving forward. “I don’t believe that we’ll ever return to the way that it was,” said Coote. “St. Mary’s had never been a digital church, and this has opened up a new way of expressing.”
Following Los Angeles diocesan protocols for COVID-19, St. Mary’s isn’t allowed to even livestream from its sanctuary right now. Instead, Coote is streaming her services from home. She produced her brief Facebook broadcast from the sanctuary during a quick stop at her church office to pick up paperwork.
“The hardest thing we’ve had to do is say to priests that you can’t even livestream from your church,” said Bishop John H. Taylor. “We follow a savior who gave up everything he had for the sake of the world. And what we’re being invited to give up this year is the physical sacrament, which we love. We are giving all that up to help save lives.”
On Palm Sunday, Coote held services on Facebook Live and Zoom in both English and Spanish. On Maundy Thursday, the congregation held a pandemic-inspired hand-washing ceremony over Zoom, instead of the more customary foot-washing ceremony. For Good Friday, she screen-shared a slideshow of woodcut images of the Stations of the Cross from Virginia Theological Seminary, accompanied by bilingual readings from Episcopal Migration Ministries. For Easter, the congregation met virtually for Morning Prayer, a traditional service without Eucharist from the denomination’s Book of Common Prayer.
The move to the internet has allowed Coote to begin holding Wednesday night prayer services over Zoom and Facebook Live, which she says has given St. Mary’s the opportunity to move from a “Sunday church” to an “all week” church.
Taylor said he sees similar shifts across the diocese. “People are saying, ‘We have more time for the pleasure of simple conversation and fellowship,’” Taylor said. “Suddenly there’s all of these relationships flowering, and I think that is going to transform us into a church that’s better equipped to sustain one another through the ups and downs of life.
“People are rediscovering the Daily Office of prayer and realizing that they can be in touch with their people every day,” said Taylor.
Coote said she doubts her congregation will emerge from quarantine the same congregation that went in.
“Part of what the community is involved in is asking who they are. There’s no better time for fostering this exploration,” Coote said. “For many people the sanctuary, the building, the environment is all what makes church, church. This experience of COVID-19 is causing us to realize that we are the church beyond the walls.”
This story is part of a collaboration between Religion News Service and The GroundTruth Project exploring how faith communities around the world are adapting to COVID-19, produced with support from the Henry Luce Foundation.
Nearly 3,000 shoppers taking advantage of “senior hour” at 44 Atlanta Kroger stores were surprised Wednesday morning when actor-filmmaker and local resident Tyler Perry paid for their groceries. He also picked up the tab at 29 Winn-Dixies in New Orleans, where he was raised.
Over the weekend, the entertainment mogul also shelled out $21,000 to bless 42 out-of-work servers at his favorite restaurant, giving each of them $500.
“Senior and higher-risk Kroger shoppers in metro Atlanta did receive a nice surprise at the register this morning when they learned Tyler Perry had paid their grocery tab in full,” Felix Turner, the Atlanta spokesman for Kroger, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We would like to join our customers in thanking Mr. Perry for his kindness and generosity during this unprecedented pandemic. It was truly a pleasure to see our customers fill with joy and gratitude as the news spread throughout 44 stores across metro Atlanta.”
The grocery chain also took to Twitter, sharing a picture of a grateful shopper showing off the receipt.
Grocery stores across the country began implementing early morning senior hours several weeks ago to allow vulnerable shoppers an opportunity to get their groceries without exposure to the wider population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phil Kloer, a former reporter for the AJC, told the newspaper he was nearly finished shopping at a Decatur Kroger when an employee quietly told him he should get to the cashier by 8 a.m. He complied and, after his $290 order was rung up, the cashier informed Kloer his $290 tab was covered.
“I was dumbstruck,” the still-employed Kloer, 64, said.
Because he is still working, the journalist decided to extend the giving spirit by donating $300 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Retired airline pilot Janette Maas said her $60 receipt included a line that read “Atlanta Angel.” The 61-year-old, shopping in Maretta, also received an added bonus.
“I got my Kroger fuel points,” she said.
Perry made no reference to the gift on either his Twitter or Facebook accounts, but did note that a long-time member of his crew, hairdresser Charles Gregory, died Wednesday after contracting coronavirus.
“It saddens me to think of him dying this way,” Tyler posted on Facebook.
“My sincerest prayers are with his family.”
He then urged the black community to take the coronavirus seriously.
“Black people, we are at a disproportionately higher risk of dying from this virus,” he wrote. “Please, please, please, I beg you to take this seriously. You have to socially distance yourself. That means stop hanging out, stop congregating, stop doing anything that will put not only your life in danger but also the lives of so many others.
“STAY HOME!! Socially distance yourself and stay alive! If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for someone you love, and for those who love you.
“My Mother always told me to not wait for help! Be your own help!”
On Saturday, Perry also used Facebook to issue a challenge to his followers:
“I dare you to still yourself and listen to this song!! This has been my prayer and meditation. Please take care of yourselves!! Prayers up!”
The prophets see in part and hear in part – so here is a portion prophetically and I pray as you read it you find yourself encouraged.
This world has been rattled by the pandemic situation of Coronavirus, which has brought turmoil to the entire globe. There were situations earlier, where a particular part of the world went through the crisis due to a virus, and this is the first time the whole world is facing and trying its full potential to get over it.
Scientists and Medical experts are trying to find out medicine to cure the virus. On the other hand, thousands of people getting buried every day. It’s said that the virus originated in the bats and jumped the species barrier into the human population. From the day it was announced till now it has been an uncontrollable disease.
We are still uncertain whether the viruses were spread from the animals or it was an intentional spreader among people by humans.
But we need to see from God’s perspective in this highly intensive period.
Why did God allow such disease into the world? If God is good and all-powerful, then why doesn’t he stop bad things happening? It is essential to note down that God is expecting something from us.
There are many reasons why I believe it may make sense for God to allow us to go through a certain amount of suffering. After all, it’s not God’s job to keep us safe, secure and pain-free. God is concerned with bringing us into a relationship with him as fully human people, often shaped by both the joys and challenges of life.
Likewise, I don’t believe God causes suffering (on the contrary it’s our own free will that brings about much of the evil in the world), but I do believe that God is wise, powerful and loving enough to use the pain of our circumstances for his greater purposes.
Because God is good, he always works to bring about good in our lives.
The Bible says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
God can turn every evil situation for the good. It is time to self analyze ourselves in the presence of God.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
It is clear that God is expecting something from us during this pandemic situation. He is expecting us to come back to him from our wicked ways. He is expecting us to be holy and willing to do the will of God.
He has given His only Son for us, and He expects us to seek His face and come under his presence.
A very often neglected verse Psalm 2:12 says “Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
Let us repent and take refuge in him.
I encourage you to stay in faith and decree LIFE and healing over your life, and the world today!