SINCERITY

Torn Heart

How would you describe sincerity?

How would you describe insincerity?

Seth Pecksniff, a character with a holier-than-thou attitude in Charles Dickens’s 1844 novel Martin Chuzzlewit, was no angel, though he certainly tried to pass himself off as one. Pecksniff liked to preach morality and brag about his own virtue, but in reality he was a deceptive rascal who would use any means to advance his own selfish interests. It didn’t take long for Pecksniff’s reputation for canting sanctimoniousness to leave its mark on English; “Pecksniffian” has been used as a synonym of “hypocritical” since 1849.

What does any of this have to do with a picture of a torn heart shaped leaf and our study of Joel?

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HOPE OR DESPAIR

directions

Which path do you tend to take when life gets tough: hope or despair?

Do you easily vacillate between hope or despair?

Joel 1:1-2:11 describes a situation of utter despair.

The Judean community has not only suffered an intense locust plague that has led to famine, drought, and fires but are also told this is just a precursor to the Lord coming to attack them in judgement as well.

In response to the announcement of the Lord’s coming attack, Joel 2:11 ends with the question: Who can endure it?

In other words, is there any hope to be found?

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ENDURANCE

Endurance

What is the first image in your mind when you read the word endurance?

I immediately think of endurance athletes such as Iron Man competitors who train to complete the longest  triathlon of swimming, biking, and running.  Competing in this requires serious preparations over months or years to perform well.

The ability to withstand hardship or adversity over a prolonged stressful effort is an apt definition of endurance when applied to an Iron Man competition.

So why did I choose an image of a soldier carrying a dog for this post instead of an image of endurance athletes?

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EARTHQUAKE AND ECLIPSE

Eclipse

Have you experienced either an earthquake or an eclipse?

Back in 2017 my region was in the path of a solar eclipse.

This month my region experienced tremors from a 5.1 earthquake that occurred a state away.

But have you ever experienced a simultaneous earthquake and eclipse?

A brief search on the internet for information on whether a simultaneous earthquake and eclipse has ever occurred only yielded results that scientists believe an eclipse can trigger a greater magnitude  earthquake in the following weeks. But all were quick to point out that predicting a specific timing was not likely.

If anyone does more extensive research and finds that this has occurred simultaneously please let me know.

Why do I want to know about whether there is any documentation of an earthquake and eclipse occurring simultaneously?

Turn to Joel 2:10 to find out!

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ACTION

soldiers

How would you describe the action in the picture above?

Would you use verbs that describe the sound of the action?

How about verbs that describe the formation of the action?

Would you use verbs that describe the speed of the action?

Our study today takes us to Joel 2:7-9 that is full of descriptive action verbs about an invasion.

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OVERWHELMED

When have you felt overwhelmed?

What triggered the feeling of being overwhelmed?

  • An overpacked work schedule?
  • Too many social engagements?
  • Grieving the loss of a loved one?
  • Losing a job?
  • A personal health crisis?
  • Global challenges such as Covid-19, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.?
  • A combination of any of the above?

Any of the above and more can trigger feelings of being overwhelmed even in the most steadfast personalities.

Now have you ever considered how you might react if you saw a mighty heavenly army coming towards you?

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POWER

Decibel Meter
  • What does power look like?
  • What does power sound like?

Several years back, my husband and I attended an outdoor concert. My husband had brought a decibel meter to the concert because, well, he is into that sort of thing. The meter showed the concert was within legal levels, but it sounded louder than that.

When we crawled out of our car upon our arrival home our ears were smacked with a deafening cicada chorus even louder than the concert we had just attended. Yes, my husband took another decibel meter reading to confirm what our ears were telling us.

We could not see the cicadas as it was close to midnight but there was no doubt they were there.

Now that’s audible power!

What words would you use to describe power?

Does your description depend on who or what has the power you are describing?

How does Joel describe the Lord’s power?

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Hard Times

escape hatch

2020 has continued to be a difficult year of hard times.

The rise of COVID-19 and the restrictions in place to slow the spread of it have added a new layer of complexity to this year’s hard times.

My personal hard times this year involve the loss of a grandmother, a coworker, and now a beloved pet.

I could not travel to be with family when my grandmother passed because of COVID restrictions.

My coworker’s passing from cancer came shockingly swift after the point of diagnosis.

And my husband and I, along with a veterinarian’s guidance, had to make the tough call to say goodbye to our sweet Molly, an Australian Shepherd mix.

I have also been dealing with an injured bicep that makes it challenging to do not only my day job, but also my writing pursuits and basic household chores.

My body and soul ache.

COVID-19 restrictions add to the stress of it all.

There are days when, much like the cat in the picture above, I desire to find an escape hatch.

It is not unusual to go through hard times. Everyone does.

How can our study of Joel help us put our current hard times into perspective?

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Thunderstorms

Dark Lightning

How do you respond to thunderstorms?

When my husband and I first moved to South Carolina we had to transition our dog, Dutch, to apartment living. Dutch was used to having over ½ an acre to roam prior to this adjustment. He appreciated affection but mostly liked some space between himself and others.

Then one night after we had gone to bed, a thunderstorm occurred. At the first crack of thunder Dutch jumped onto our bed to get in between us. He stayed there until the storm had passed, trembling the entire time.

Until that moment, we had no idea how deeply scared of thunderstorms Dutch had been.

As we continue our study in the book of Joel  today, we come to a verse that describes something more frightening than a common thunderstorm.

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IT’S COMING!

Coming Soon

“It’s Coming!” my coworker exclaimed as I entered their office.

“Which it?” I calmly replied.

For a moment, it appeared they were more stunned by my calm response than what they had been excited about.

We receive “it’s coming” news announcements of all kinds throughout our days.

It is natural for the one making an “it’s coming” announcement to desire a particular response or action to what has been shared.

What happens when the announcement fails to illicit the desired response?

Could this be what has brought about Joel 2:1?

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