Thursday, October 19, 2017

Patience


Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12   

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11   

As a child, I can recall looking to the horizon and wanting something more. Whether that was looking to my small town baseball field with lights blazing, wanting to be attending a game; or the southern horizon which comprised a hill and a huge oak tree half a mile in the distance and wanting to be “somewhere bigger”; or the western horizon where I could see the banks of the Missouri River 30 miles away. I wanted more than what my little town had to offer; I wanted to be living in those places I’d only read about. I wanted my life to start! And not on this little farm in South Dakota.

However, while I don’t long to live there, I enjoy going back home. The new home owners allow me to explore the property that has changed so much since I lived there, and changed not at all. I appreciate what that farm and my life growing up has given me: contentment with quietness, appreciation for nature, an introspection that I think serves me well today.

God always knows what’s best for us. We may not know this until later, when we have the benefit of hindsight; but, His way is always the BEST way.

Prayer: Dear Lord, sometimes we long for what we don’t have…it may be related to finances, friendship, career, family.  We might be impatient when things aren’t going well, or when we are suffering through crisis. Help us to be content where we are and to call to you for peace. Let us ask you for help in changing those things that we need to change. Remind us that you are with us, every day. Amen.
 
Donna Gustafson

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

For Everything there is a Season


For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die…

A time to weep and a time to laugh ; and a time to mourn , and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

 

Recently I worked with two families who were facing the death of their loved ones. The first involved an 80+ year old who was told by his physician that there was nothing more he could do for him. He was dying--and this was overwhelming for both him and his family. It was hard for them to even say the word “dying”. We talked for over an hour about his and the family’s wishes and what was important for them during this time. He held firmly onto my hand during our conversation as if just by holding on, he could make this all go away.

 
The second patient was a younger man whose body rapidly took a turn for the worse. As I sat with his elderly father, we talked through the family’s decision to remove the ventilator, feeding tube, and other technology. The doctors would keep him comfortable while life support would gradually be withdrawn. The father did not know what to expect, but he knew the family had made the right decision to let him go.
 

The above Ecclesiastes passage came to my mind during both these cases. We are all in the act of dying over time, some longer and some shorter. The love in these families was very evident, and as they struggled with “dying,” both had spiritual support through their faith and the hope of a better life to come.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your love throughout our lives from birth to death. Thank you for your blessings so that even with the finality of death there is the promise of a new life to come. Amen.  

 

Nancy Hall

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

See the Good, Be the Good


And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me--everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (NLT) Philippians 4:8-9 

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. (NIV) Psalm 40:3 

We all have those times in our lives that really stink. Looking back on those awful days--and in the midst of them--sometimes all we want to do is complain, cry, yell or maybe even throw something. Ouch. In those times, we have to learn to lean hard on God. When we do, he can bring us great comfort. Not only that, but he can give us perspective.

God has taught me to pray this at the beginning of the day, “No matter what this day brings, Lord, please open my eyes to see the good in it.” Lysa TerKeurst, in her devotion “When God Isn't Answering Our Prayers” says: “In the midst of what you’re facing, find simple things for which to praise God. I don’t mean thank Him for the hard stuff. I mean thank Him for the other simple, good things still in the midst. A child’s laugh. A bush that blooms. The warmth of a blanket. The gift of this breath and then the next. Psalm 40:3 reminds me God will give me a new song when I make praise the habit of my heart and mouth.”

God has also taught me to take my morning prayer a step further. I ask him to also open my heart to BE the good in the day ahead. This way, instead of resigning myself to being a recipient of the bad, I try instead to be a giver of good. I say this prayer hoping that God will show me how I can be a blessing...even if it's just a small gesture or a few kind words. The thought of possibly making someone else's awful day a little brighter lightens my heart.

PRAYER: Gracious Heavenly Father, forgive us for losing our cool when our days are awful. Open our eyes to see things the way you do; and open our hearts to love the way you do.  e need your grace to do this, because sometimes looking beyond all the awfulness around us is so very hard to do. And thank you so much for the peace you bring us when we finally learn to trust in you. Amen.

 
Sharon Irvin

Monday, October 16, 2017

Surprise! Surprise!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

 
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
 

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophesy, in proportion to faith; ministry, on ministering; the teacher, in teaching.” Romans 12: 6-7
 

Last April, I was given a blooming orchid plant – my first orchid plant gift. I watered it carefully and it continued to bloom for two months. I enjoyed its beautiful blooms and was sad to see it go. I placed it under our back yard deck and forgot about it.
 

Last week as I picked tomatoes at the edge under the deck, the orchid plant greeted me with brilliant new blooms. What a special gift! I couldn’t wait to show the orchid blooms to my family and neighbors.
 

Daily, each of us receives gifts from God. Often we do not recognize them or give thanks for these gifts. Can you name gifts you have recently been given by God? Even though we haven’t earned these gifts, we receive them gratefully.
 

PRAYER: Dear God, we are thankful for your most precious gifts. Help us to follow your example and to share our talents and gifts with others. Amen.
 

Lois Poppe

Friday, October 13, 2017

Promises


When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore to himself saying, "I will surely bless you and multiply you."  And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Hebrews 6:13-15

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10: 23-25

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises. 2 Peter:  1: 3-4

One of my favorite old time hymns is Standing On The Promises of God.  The tune of that hymn causes me to repeat the words to myself.  The words of "eternal praise," "overcoming doubt and fear," "listening to the call," "bound by love" keep repeating in my mind as I think of that song.  It reminds me that our Christian faith is based on promises from God that we have learned about from studying the message that Jesus brings to us in the Bible.  The promises become our expectations that we have because we believe in God.  I suppose we become disappointed and somewhat doubters if certain promises don't seem to come our way in a timely manner.  However, as written in Hebrews, as our faith grows, we overcome our doubts and concerns and rely on the "promises from God."

While we live to claim the promises from God, our church has promises from us.  We made promises of support and involvement when we joined Eastridge Church.  We continue to make verbal promises during worship activities and responses.  Our church lives because of our promises.  Today, our church has several service and financial needs.  Are we living up to our promises?  Can we expect to claim promises from God if we haven't fulfilled our promises to our church?  Let us meet the needs of Eastridge Church.

PRAYER:  Dear Heavenly Father, we give You thanks for the messages of promise that You have presented to us through Your son, Jesus.  Help us to grow in faith in order to fulfill our promise to follow Your word and to search for the direction You would have us live so that it would be pleasing in Your sight.  Amen

Lauren Holcombe

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Price of Our Peace


But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53: 5-6

The prophet Isaiah addressed the Jewish people around 700 B.C., during the time that they were in captivity in Babylonia. They were displaced and miserable. Isaiah was reminding them that they needed to turn away from their sinful ways and back to God, who had promised to send a messiah to save them. Isaiah seemed to know more about the future savior than anyone, and he accurately foretold the suffering that Jesus would endure in order to save God’s people.  But while the Jewish people had to wait hundreds of years for their messiah, and many did not recognize Him when he appeared, we have the advantage of knowing “the rest of the story,” as told in the New Testament. By sending His son to earth, God proved how much He loves even His sinful people, and we have only to believe His promise that our faith in Jesus Christ will lead us to “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

PRAYER:  Gracious and loving God, we thank You for the mercy You have shown Your sinful people by sending Jesus to live among us. We thank You for the peace that comes with our faith in the Trinity, and we pray that others will find such peace as well. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done. Amen.

 
Judith Keller
(reprinted from 2016)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Get Woke": October 1, 2017 Sermon notes by Rev. Dr. Melodie Jones Pointon



The story of Moses begins with God’s people, the Israelites, slaves in a foreign country. Over the years I’ve read commentaries that always try to soften this story, altering some of the details. Slavery at that time simply meant the lowest class of physical laborers – it wasn’t slavery like we think of it. Or, they weren’t really treated poorly, the Israelites. It’s just that they had forgotten God, and so were living for money instead of for vocation and purpose. But no. No! That’s not right! The text is very clear that the Pharoah (or King) that we are dealing with here is the sort of person who demands all boys under the age of 2 be slaughtered. Our protagonist for today, Moses, was saved from this, placed in a basket by his mother, rescued by the Pharoah’s daughter, and raised by and Israelite handmaiden (who turns out to be his mother) in Pharoah’s house. Later in the story, Moses is forced to flee the palace after he goes for a walk one day, and witnesses brutality amongst his people, the Jews. He loses his cool, retaliates, and is banished to the hills to become a shepherd. He makes an in with a priest’s family when he marries Jethro’s daughter. He leaves his old world, and his people, behind. 
        

Our narrative text for today finds us dealing with all the same issues that I’ve just summarized. Pharoah has died, making leadership uncertain with a change in power. “When an oppressive ruler dies, everything comes unglued…”
[1] God’s people get “woke.” They groan under their slavery, and they cry out. The groan, they cry. God hears, God remembers, God looks, and God knows. This, dear friends, is a turning point for the people of Israel, for God’s people living in a horrible, desperate situation at the very bottom of the social and economic rung. Out of political chaos and unrest, God’s people get “woke,” and find their identity. 


These, dear friends, are God’s people.


And God, God hears, remembers, sees, and knows God’s people.


It is out of this context that Moses re-enters the scene. It’s a story so familiar to us that modern-day horticulture embraces this story in a bush called “burning bush.” Moses, while shepherding, stumbles across a burning bush. 



Or, rather, he stumbles across a burning bush that is not consumed, and angel who does not speak, and a God he cannot see who does speak. It’s almost as if God is trying to get Moses’ attention. Or, as Katherine Schifferdecker from Lutheran Seminary wonders, maybe God is trying to get someone’s attention. Maybe God has been there, in that spot, for years, for decades, and other’s have just walked by. After all, God is about to ask Moses to do something…impossible. And Moses doesn’t want to go. Moses doesn’t want to do it. Depending on who you consult, Moses makes either 5 or 8 objections to why he can’t be the one to go back to Pharoah. Not the least of which is that he’s not eloquent, or he can’t speak (likely has a stutter). 


“Moses must have had misgivings about going against the people to whom he owed his life and his privileged upbringing.”
[2]


And yet…it’s not just because we know how the story ends – that Moses does go on to do the impossible, to demand the Israelites freedom, to become the instrument of liberation, to lead God’s people out of the plagues, through the Red Sea, and into the desert. It’s not just because we know all these things…


Moses does something here that God’s people haven’t done since they became slaves in a foreign land. And he does it repeatedly. Three times, in three different ways, Moses realigns his life to be a servant of God. He realigns his identity, removing the political, economic, and social structures that tell him he is no more than a slave in a foreign land whose worth is counted by his work. 


God speaks, and Moses hears. “Here I am,” he says.


Moses enters into God’s presence, acknowledging God’s holiness by taking off his shoes.


And Moses hides his face, so as not to see the Holy One who speaks. This makes the final statement that Moses willingly submits himself to the God who has yet to be named.


These three actions tell us, from this pivotal story, that Moses will go. These statements say, “Here I am…”


And “…I am here.” He puts aside all those things, the politics, economics, and social forces that tell him who he is, and chooses to find his identity in God.



It is pivotal for the people of God! Over and over, throughout the rest of God’s story, we hear it repeated, “I am the God who brought you out of the land of slavery…” When David defeats Goliath, finds himself in front of the ark of the presence of the Lord, and brings God’s people into a unity they have not known since: remember…I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of slavery.” Through the prophets…remember…I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of slavery. 


But we also learn something here about God’s story. As Terrence Fretheim points out, “Following a pattern set in God’s interdependent ways of creating the world , God chooses to work in and through that which is not God in moving toward a resolution of Israel’s suffering dilemma in Egypt. To save the people of Israel, God chooses not to act alone. Initially, God chooses to engage a human figure as an instrument of this action.”
[3] 


Just Mercy author Bryan Stevenson came as a part of that same series of lectures at Nebraska Wesleyan earlier this month. And I am told, that as a part of the questions asked by the students he was asked where to begin. In a system that is so obviously broken in so many different ways, with inequality and injustice surrounding us, it is easy to be overwhelmed. What is the point of entry to changing the world? Where do we begin? His answer: begin changing the world, one small injustice at a time. Change your attitude. Change your direction.


And I would add this, from our text today: change your identity. Listen for God’s voice, take off your sandals, and hide your face. You, my friends, are a child of God. Now, go out into the world and do something about it. Amen.




[1] Brueggeman, NIB, pg 705.
[2] Rev Blog Pals, Liz Crumlish is a Church of Scotland Minister, https://revgalblogpals.org/2017/09/26/narrative-lectionary-speak-up-exodus-223-25-310-15-410-17/
[3] Terrence Fretheim Working Preacher

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Servant's Heart


Would any of you say to your servant, who had just come in from the field after plowing or tending sheep, “Come!  Sit down for dinner?”  Wouldn’t you say instead, “Fix my dinner.  Put on the clothes of a table servant and wait on me while I eat and drink.  After that, you can eat and drink”?  You won’t thank the servant because the servant did what you asked, will you?  In the same way, when you have done everything required of you, you should say, “We servants deserve no special praise.  We have only done our duty.” Luke 17:7-10

 

It is easy to be focused in our daily activities on relishing the sense of a great job well done.  We also, perhaps, have come to expect to be rewarded, recognized or, at least, thanked in some way for performing so admirably amongst our peers.  In our culture—one that emphasizes individual achievement, supply and demand, expectations for fair compensation—Jesus’s message here may at first seem counterintuitive, if not downright disrespectful.  Yet, Jesus invites us into an opportunity for grace—serving without clinging to expectations about what we should receive in return.  His servants’ rewards do not depend upon recognition or praise, but in the act of serving itself.  As slaves or servants do not expect accolades for fulfilling their responsibilities, Jesus’s followers, likewise, should expect no special praise for obeying His teachings, even if they are hard or humbling.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Creator, thank you for your teachings and for opportunities to serve you and those around us.  Help us to focus on acting as faithful followers without expecting accolades or personal benefits.  We ask for your forgiveness when we become distracted by our own desires for tributes and flattery.  Amen

 

Barry and Alinda Stelk

Monday, October 9, 2017

Unexpected Insights


Trust in the the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6  

 
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24  
 

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3 
 

Recently my car situation has been in limbo.  This has changed everything about my ability to run errands, get to work, and feel independent.  Facing this has made me reconsider how much I can "make do" with what I have.  This reminds me how creative my brain can be, and I rejoice at its wonders.
 

At the end of the summer, one of my cars became disabled, and I was trying to donate it; but I could not find the title in all my moving boxes.  It was amazing to me to see how much I had accumulated, and how difficult it was to organize. I saw how debilitating this can become.  I also found a lot of forgotten treasures which are so much more valuable than a certified document.
 

The search process had been lengthy and fruitless, and eventually I had to procure a duplicate title.   Cleaning out the car was a burdensome chore, because there were still vestiges of a trip to Rochester, Minnesota last year when my daughter and I stayed for two months (during which she received her fourth liver transplant). But I realized as I was lugging bags of pillows and umbrellas and scrapers and a shovel and all sorts of human necessities that I need to challenge myself in order to be more resilient.  I patted myself on the back as I rested after that chore, and looked forward to the next bit of discomfort that would help me grow.
 

On the appointed day for pickup the tow truck did not show.  So I still had to plan for uncertainties.  And that can be rather freeing.  How much does it really matter? Why should I invest too much dependence on things going as planned?


The back-up car needed work in order to be driveable after the first one tanked. The AAA tow truck driver delivered it to a repair place that was different from the one where I had made an appointment.  At the end of the day, I called the repair shop only to be told that my car wasn't there.  So AAA and I had to call and search a number of nearby places to see if my car had ended up there, since the tow truck driver couldn't be reached.  These things can happen, and it makes for more work but it also makes for a good story.  Also, the place where my car ended up did a good job of fixing it, and I had it back in no time. I was glad to find a reliable repair place that was within my budget.

 
In the ensuing month, the back-up car developed more issues. One of them involved tail lights staying on, and the battery drained.  AAA gave me a battery boost and told me to drive directly to the repair place; I managed to find a place open on Sunday, so I felt pretty lucky.  But they couldn't actually work on the car until Monday.  I hadn't really accomplished what I felt I had needed to do.  But the right things happened, only a day later than I had hoped.

 
During this time I was relying on my daughter for trips to and from work.  It was nice to have time to talk with her, and I enjoyed looking out the window at the sights I often miss while focusing on driving.  I was able to sip coffee and nibble on snacks.

 
Then more issues arose with the car, and because there was a risk of the engine overheating I was told I shouldn't drive it.  At this point, I realized that my '92 Geo Prizm might not be worth the $600 it would probably cost to fix it.  I have had to restructure my thinking about continuing to maintain something that doesn't really serve its purpose.  The car has no airbags, and doesn't travel well over 45 mph.  It doesn't really need my allegiance, even though it reminds me of my mother, from whom I inherited it. 

 
So now I am looking into buying a reliable car.  My recently-retired friend has been chauffering me, and we have had jolly drives reconnecting.  When we were in high school, she used to come pick me up and drive me to school.  I am reminded of how much I enjoy starting the day with her. She is such a light in my life, and I love being cared for by someone so generous and fun.  We always have lots of chances to laugh on the drive, and it is an uplifting way to start and end my day. 

 
Even something as mundane as our transport away from home and back again can reveal something as great as God's presence.  I look forward to more road trips with surprises.
 

Prayer: Thank you for creating my hands, and continuing to hold them.  Thank you for giving me eyes, and fresh sights to amaze them.  Thank you for interrupting my steps to show me something new about your world and the life you have given me.  Learning new things keeps me alive and present, and newly aware of your grace.  Let my inconveniences move me closer to you.  Amen.

 
Mollie Manner

Friday, October 6, 2017

Prayers Never Answered


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

 
Awhile back I was driving with my six year old grand-nephew riding in the car with me. He is quite the conversationalist; out of nowhere he says "Auntie didn't you ever want kids?"  Giving him the quick answer I said yes.  Then he proceeds to ask me then why don't you have kids?  Realizing this is a topic he wants to dig deeper into.

This is a painful subject for me as I had always prayed I would have lots of kids, it had been in my life plan. I was to get married and be a stay at home Mom.  I had babysat throughout my school years and knew what I wanted.  But life didn't work out that way, none of my relationships blossomed into that perfect life. For years I battled endometriosis and after many procedures and surgeries my chances of being able to conceive diminished. I think that's why I concentrated on my career in management, making my career my life plan.  But with a few exceptions, my nephew was born during all this struggle and I had been blessed with a sister who allowed me to become "Auntie".  She let me take my nephew on vacations, be involved in his school activities, be involved his upbringing. I am as close to my nephew as if he were my own son.  He is now married and has two children.

I turn to my grand-nephew and say sometimes life doesn't turn out the way we plan, I don't have children of my own, but I have you and your sister to love.  He said are you sad?  I said I was but I have you and you make me happy.  He said I love you Auntie, but I think I am going to have lots of kids, maybe 200.  I laughed and said I hope you do have kids but maybe not quite that many.

Prayer: Thank you Father for my nieces and nephews.  Thank you for those heartwarming moments they come running from across the room yelling "Auntie" with arms wide open and a big smile on their faces. Thank you for answering my prayers in a way I could never have dreamed. I pray for all those hurting with prayers unanswered, that they find their blessings in your plan. Guide us to the life you have planned and give the understanding and vision to see it. In Jesus name we pray. Amen 


 
Lori Hood

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Let God Steer


 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.  Proverbs 3:5-6 

 
This verse actually takes the pressure off me at those times when I do not know how to solve a problem or do not know which way to turn.  Oh, the wisdom of Proverbs, if only I would heed it!

 
I have a small plaque with this verse on it on my kitchen counter.  I was so happy to have found this at a local Christian shop at a time when I was facing a very difficult decision which had some very good consequences for me and some very negative results also, no matter which direction I took.  This plaque helped me to "let go, and give it to God", a catch phrase of my Mother's.  It reminded me to reflect on His word and to pray.  When I do this, I focus on listening to God, by being still and not constantly talking and organizing.  This is a constant challenge for me and my take charge personality. 
 

Prayer: Thank you for your divine wisdom.  You are all knowing and have a plan for my life.  Please guide me to trust you and to listen for your direction, even in the midst of all the noise in my life, most of which is of my own making.  I want to let you steer, and I will pedal hard.  I trust you with all my heart.

 

Connie Barry

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Let There be Peace on Earth, and Let It Begin with Me


“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”   Matthew 4:44

There is conflict all over our world, and divisiveness is rampant in the United States.  It is easy to become overwhelmed by it all and feel discouraged and depressed.  Of late, there has been a hymn going through my mind daily, sometimes hourly or almost continually.  I can’t seem to forget it, and don’t really want to.  It’s a lesson for me and all of us in these troubling times.

“Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me; let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.

With God, our creator, children all are we.

Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.

With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow:  to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, use me as a channel for Christ’s love by showing peace to all those around me.  Help me to share love to those most in need of it, and let me focus on peace for all.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Carolyn Brandle

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Like Joshua


 

Then Joshua said to the people, "Now respect the Lord and serve him fully and sincerely. Throw away the gods that your ancestors worshiped on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord. But if you don't want to serve the Lord, you must choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. You may serve the gods that your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River, or you may serve the gods of the Amorites who lived in this land. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24: 14-15
 

I love these two verses from Joshua 24. Joshua called all the Israelites together and reminded them of all that God had done for them over many years. He then called on them to serve the Lord.
 

These verses remind me of my dad, because he was the kind of man who would always strive to do what was right. He was born in 1875, so he was definitely a man of another time. His Christian faith was very important to him. So no matter what others would do, he would choose to serve the Lord.
 

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed upon us: life; love; family and friends. Thank you for men like Joshua and my father. Help us remember these in our daily lives that it may help us to act in ways that serve You.


Gerry Draney

Monday, October 2, 2017

In One Ear and Out the Other


Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. James 1:22-24 (The Message).

How many times have you been talking to someone and felt that your words were going "in one ear and out the other"?  Listening is sometimes difficult.  Our brains may be swirling with thoughts of errands we have to run or tasks to be completed, but a friend is trying to tell us something that's important to them.  We may think we're being good listeners, when we really aren't.    

The last couple of years have seen a number of changes at Eastridge.  We've had staff and membership additions and subtractions.  We've gone through several periods of transition, and we're in the midst of another one as we try to decide what the staffing model will be for the future. 

We've spent time discussing the changes, but have we really listened to each other?  Listening is an extremely important part of any transition period.  We need to listen to others, to God, and to ourselves.  It's easy to appear to be listening, but we may only be hearing the words, without understanding their meaning.  We may be thinking about what we plan to say when we get the chance. 

Many exciting programs are on the calendar at Eastridge as we move ahead as a church.  During this period and into the future, we need to strive to be open to all the voices in our church.  And we need to be ready to act on what we hear, so that we don't forget who we are, what Eastridge looks like now, and what it can look like in the future.    

Prayer: Dear God, We thank you for giving us the ability to listen and to hear your voice.  We pray that you will continue to be with us into the future, reminding us when necessary to be patient.  Amen.

Robin Hadfield

Friday, September 29, 2017

First Day of School


Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

 

That our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.
Psalms 144:12

 
It is often during this season and time of year, I think back to my first day of school and how excited I was. I can remember asking my Mother and Dad, how long are you staying. I wanted to get on with finding new friends and things to learn.

I trust our children today are still excited with the “first” day of school, with returning to school to see friends and teachers they may have not seen through the summer, and our older children, seeking challenge as they tackle the difficult courses in those chosen career of study. God is with these different ages as they seek to expand their wings and face life. God is there to help as they encounter difficult decisions and events.


Prayer: Gracious Lord give guidance to the parents and teachers who need your help for direction to our children. Help our children with knowledge and to have understanding for their lives, not only with the world things, but with the blessings which can only come from you. God also give them patience to understand some “ things” take time.

 

Shirley Flynn-Bell

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What Do You See?


And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Jesus) said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And (Jesus) said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But (the lawyer), desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”               Luke 10:25-29 (RSV)

I recently received this poster from the United Nations Refugee Agency… 


What do you see? A boatload of refugees. Terrorists and rapists? Or the world’s tired and poor—the wretched refuse longing to breathe free? Look closer…
 

Who do you see? White faces and black faces. Men, women, children. (What courage, as well as desperation, it must take to board this boat with your baby! ) Who do you see? Future Terrorists and gangsters? Or future cooks and housekeepers, construction workers and farm workers, restaurant owners and tax-payers.

This photo was taken by documentary photographer Massimo Sestini about 5 km north of the Libyan coast, just before the occupants were rescued by the Italian coastguard, on 7 June 2014. Look again…

 



What are they doing? Smiling at the helicopter hovering above them…because they know that they will not perish in the sea.

According to the United Nations 65M individuals have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict, violence, or persecution. 21M of these are refugees, and about half of those are children. Over half of the 21M are from just three countries: Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

This picture of a crowded blue vessel surrounded by the black void reminded me of another photograph  I had seen years before:

 
the earth as photographed by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1969.

All humanity on that blue sphere gliding through the heavens…all of us seeking a future free of persecution and violence and war. That boatload of refugees on the poster is a microcosm of our earth.

I see our brothers and sisters.

Prayer: Oh God of Heaven and Earth, you loved this earth so much to send us your son. We read in Deuteronomy that you loves the sojourner, And we are commanded to  love the sojourner for we were sojourners in the land of Egypt. We pray that you will give us the vision to recognize our brothers and sisters where ever they are. Amen


Bill Wehrbein

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Asking for Assistance


Listen, Lord, as I pray!  

Pay attention when I groan.

You are my King and my God.

Answer my cry for help because I pray to You.

Each morning You listen to my prayer, as I bring my requests to You and wait for Your reply.
                                                  ~ From the beginning of Psalm 5.

 

When I was asked to write a devotion, I accepted a little reluctantly. I am thankful for many things but am tired of one medical problem. Many jobs are not accomplished due to pain. But when I look around there are those individuals that have so many more troubles. I try to pray for these persons when I hear about them. Can you imagine losing your home and car in a flood or fire?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, please take care of those persons around the world that are suffering in some manner. Those of us of Christian Faith know that You “have our backs,” so to speak.  We praise You and ask You for forgiveness for any sins that have occurred through us.  Amen.

Carol Budka

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Changes


 

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
 

As a project manager, one of my roles at work is to help with change control and change management.  What this means in everyday conversation is that I help our team to recognize changes in the workflow that will be significant, uncomfortable or painful for end users with a new tool or technology.  We will have multiple conversations around this, how best to tell the end user that the change is coming, how to help them prepare for the change, why we are doing it and what we think will be easier and better for them in the future. Recently, it feels like everywhere I go there are changes – some feel good, exciting, easy to accept.  Others are more challenging.  I want to resist, fight, argue, prove that I am right.   

 

It has been interesting for me to listen to some of the current commentary about Nebraska athletics and our expectation for tradition.  From basketball losses at the beginning of 2017, coaching changes, play calling, a big traditional game the day after a holiday and even athletic director roles, people are calling for a return to traditions.  I have heard so many times, that’s just not how things are here, the leaders making decisions don’t know us and they don’t understand our traditions.


At work, when I hear things like “this is the way we have always done it” I instinctively want to reveal reasons that the new way is better.  With sports or even at church, I sometimes feel like I am on the traditionalist bandwagon.  I have begun to wonder, are we reaching for what is familiar because we are afraid of the unknown?  Not only afraid of failing, but fearful because we cannot see the good in what is being offered, only that it is different. 


As we proceed with new plans in youth ministry, worship and leadership I want us to remember this verse in Thessalonians that reminds us to hold God’s teachings and to allow them to strengthen and encourage us.  We need to remember that one of the jobs for everyone in a church community is to share God’s word in an effort to strengthen others.  We need to do this for all ages.  It cannot only be done by leaders, by those paid, elected or appointed but by each one of us.  As we question the abandonment of traditions we are familiar with at Eastridge, we all need to look at the opportunities that the changes present and know that if we, as a church, decide that some of those traditions are worthwhile and necessary to what we want our church to be, then we must make the effort and take action and find ways to share in the glory of Christ.



Prayer: Most holy God, Thank you for sharing your word with us.  Give us comfort as we struggle to accept the changes in our personal lives and communities.  Help us to trust that we can share your word with new generations and that we can strengthen one another by reflecting your love. 

 
 
Christi Moock

Monday, September 25, 2017

Serenity Prayer

            
Be still and know that I am God, Psalm 46:10

                                         Serenity Prayer


   God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

   Courage to change the things I can;

   and Wisdom to know the difference.

   Living one day at a time;

   Enjoying one moment at a time;

   Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

   Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

   Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;

   that I may be reasonably Happy in this life and supremely happy with

   Him Forever in the next. Amen

I found this Prayer on a bookmark and it made me think and relate the words to me in my life. This prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr about 1934.  He used it in his sermons. It was adopted and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups. The prayer has appeared in many versions through the years. Serenity means calm and cheerful.  The prayer asks God to grant us Serenity-calmness in dealing with different aspects of our life. Read through the
prayer many times and relate it to yourself.  Read it other times and come
back and read it again.  It has a way of sticking with me and facing life with God. I hope you come back to it many times.

Prayer:Dear Heavenly Father, Help us with Serenity, Courage, Wisdom, Living,Enjoying, Accepting, Taking, Trusting, Happy, and Forever.   AMEN




 

Susan Taylor

                        

 

 

 
             

Friday, September 22, 2017

Slow Dance


…He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul. Psalm 23

In cleaning out a kitchen drawer last spring, I found this poem.  It really spoke to me, as I have filled my time with many activities and need to heed these words.

                                                SLOW DANCE  

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round

or listened to the rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight

or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

 
You better slow down, don’t dance so fast. 

Time is short, the music won’t last.
 

Do you run through each day on the fly

When you ask, “How are you?” do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores running through your head?

 

You’d better slow down, don’t dance so fast.

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Ever told your child, “we’ll do it tomorrow”

And in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die

“Cause you never had time to call and say “Hi”?

You’d better slow down, don’t dance so fast.

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It’s like an unopened gift ….thrown away.

Life’s not a race.  Do take it slower. 

Hear the music before the song is over.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, help us to take the time to slow down and enjoy the many blessings you have given us. Help us to spend more time walking, loving and caring, and less time running and hurrying without noticing those around us. Let us spend more time talking with you and less time talking on our “devices”. We pray that all of us may have quiet time “by the still waters”. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Carolyn Brandle