• Fasting is a devotional discipline shared throughout history by the three major Abrahamic religions---Judaism, Christianity, and Islam---and by some of the world's other spiritual traditions as well. In the Jewish faith, fasting is mandated for Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, at which time people strive to cultivate the heart of confession and repentance. Throughout the month of Ramadan, many Muslims the world over engage in ritual fasting in an effort to draw the mind away from the mundane, and into deeper and more continual communication with God. A certain New Testament passage, Matthew 6:16, indicates an assumption on the part of Jesus that his own followers will fast as a matter of course, and there is ample biblical treatment of

    Dec 29,
  • I have not been one to repose great faith in the "New Year's resolution" concept. This is because, due to the hectic pace of the season in which they are made, resolution lists seem cobbled together as a feverish afterthought, or as a party game on the libation-drenched night of December 31st, when the guacamole dip is running low and the beer commercials aren't. Typically, people reel off a series of wildly varied goals requiring the monitoring and completion of long-term processes, though few will acknowledge that such work is critical to the attainment of their stated goals. "I'm going to quit smoking," someone will say. "I'm going to be a better son." "We're going to have more frequent and loving family dinners

    Dec 28,
  • Not too long ago, I observed from a distance a wiry, bearded, and poorly-dressed middle-aged fellow in the grocery store. Clearly, circumstance had dealt harshly with this one-time "flower child" over the years: The appearance of his skin, eyes, and teeth suggested health that had been systematically compromised by some rather poor choices in his time. Standing in the doorway, this man seemed quite upset about something; others were avoiding him. I approached him and we talked. Somewhat unusually, given the setting, we also, in time, elected to sing. On the off-chance you were there, you may remember having seen us; we were the unique pair covering Chicago's '70s mega-hit "Colour My World" while strolling down through Frozen Foods. An

    Dec 22,
  • Looking for a way to live out the bright promise of the Christmas season? Has Rita Cooksey got ideas for you! She's the office manager at Poplar Bluff's United Gospel Rescue Mission, and the "season of giving" is among the very busiest in her year. Not surprisingly, the mission is in search of volunteers to make its 39th annual Christmas celebration a success! Indeed it's a busy time for most everyone, but surely not so much that a body can't squeeze in a few hours to help keep a blessed Poplar Bluff tradition thriving! Some people even shape this kind of opportunity into a family affair, and a service-oriented learning experience for older children. So here's the plan: FRIDAY: Starting at 9:00 am at the loading

    Dec 20,
  • The romance, danger, adventure, enlightenment, and companionship we experience through reading books...These all await within the friendly precincts of The Book Shop, the cozy little used-book emporium located on Main Street just across from the Poplar Bluff Public Library. With a few comfortable chairs, no fire-breathing hard-sell, and an understated BYOC (Bring Your Own Coffee) vibe, The Book Shop is a booklover's playground, crammed from back to front with inexpensive delights. It houses literary classics, love stories, whodunits, horror tales, science fiction, westerns, biographies, histories, religious writings, "how-to's", cookbooks, recent bestsellers, time-honored children's stories, and quite the collection of comic books and magazines, too.

    Dec 13,

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