Views

The views expressed here are those of each individual devotion writer. Thank you to our writers for their contributions to this ministry!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

What is your Favorite Hymn?

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 96:1

What is your favorite hymn? I am sure we have all suffered through those that apparently no one knows. I am sure many don’t even try to sing, while others sing in a whisper; if you are lucky there is a choir to help or at least one or two members that are singing in tune to lead us through. Many times I have asked myself why do they select these {hymns}, but ultimately I know the meaning in the song connects with the season or sermon.  At times I have chuckled to myself when it seemed like the song was really dragging and I couldn’t imagine what the angels above must think.  

Oh, but when they pick the ones we know, the ones we can sing without hymnals or screen. Ones we know from childhood that you can feel bringing that comfort inside your soul as you sing it. The ones we sing out loud, we sing with our heads up for all to see.  

How true this is with new challenges or experiences in life. When faced with a change in a job, a financial situation, a death, meeting someone new; do we face it with a whisper, pretending to mouth our way through it then face it head on? Expecting others to carry us through it, rather than learning something new or changing our ways?  Why don’t we look for the meaning and ask for help?  

Trust in the Lord, you are here for a reason. Yes, it may feel like it’s dragging on, but maybe that is the plan. Listen to the accompanist ...feel the music. No, we may not perform perfectly but we will be following His path and the rewards may surpass those we have always found comfort in in the past. 

Lori Hood




Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Help


When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from their troubles. Psalm 34:17


While I generally spend most of my time and efforts at work on clinical projects, the last 10 months I have been working on two different financial projects. This is far outside my comfort zone and often leaves me feeling a little out of sorts.  Some of the team members that I have to work with are challenging. The rules for Medicare are difficult to interpret and often lead to arguments among team members. And most of all, at least for me, working in the healthcare industry has always been more about taking care of the patient, and less about making sure that we are reimbursed for that work.  


Before these meetings I have found myself pausing outside the door to pray.  Simple prayers like “God, a little help please” or “God, I can’t take it if we have another shouting match” or some days “God, I really like my job, except for this project”. While I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn about the rules and how they impact the physicians and nurses caring for our patients this work has felt like a tremendous burden and I find myself wanting to rush through the pain and break free from the troubles. Even though God hasn’t stepped in to rescue me, I feel better whispering to him in confidence before I take on this work.  And I continue to believe that he is with me while I facilitate difficult conversations, navigate solutions and help those involved make decisions and improve the process so that the care that we provide will be affordable to the community in need.  


Prayer: God who is always present, thank you for listening when I fuss, for comforting me when I am burdened, for giving me strength to fight for the right things. Thank you for all the opportunities in my life, both the hard and the easy.   


Christi Moock

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Life in the Spirit


As for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord. My spirit, which is upon you, and my words, which I have placed in your mouth won’t depart from your mouth, nor from the mouths of your descendants, nor from the mouths of your descendants’ children, says the Lord, forever and always Isaiah 59:21.


Protect this good thing that has been placed in your trust through the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:14

It is hard sometimes to discern the Spirit inside us after we accept Christ as our Savior. We can get so busy we forget Jesus lives in us. We are free to act according to our will. We might even get nudges from the Spirit and fail to take time to follow through. I know I have thought of others that are having trouble but go about my more important business and forget to check on them. Below are some awesome thoughts in Christina Hergenrader’s book Family Trees & Olive Branches.  It is a great book available in Barnes & Noble and Amazon.


Living as a child of God includes the experience of reading a Bible verse that your soul leaps at because, in your most tender places, you know it as truth.


Life in the Spirit is humbling; it’s recognizing the radical patience and kindness another person has shown you.


Life in the Spirit is praying to your Father and feeling the profound peace that comes from knowing He is taking care of you and has been caring for you.


Life in the Spirit is hearing an explanation of God’s expansive love for you that resonates so deeply that you feel whole.


Life in the spirit is receiving the underserved forgiveness of someone you have hurt.


Prayer: Dear Father, we readily forget that once we have accepted Jesus into our lives that we are different. Your Spirit is within us. The Bible is clear on this matter as 2 Timothy 1:14 says, the Holy Spirit lives in us. This is truly amazing and continually amazes me in the experiences I have. Help us to be continually aware of your Spirit. Amen.


Sandra Hilsabeck










Monday, January 20, 2020

Encouraging the Israelites in Exile to Plant Gardens and Build Houses: follow-up to Sunday's sermon

When Dreams Unravel

read // JEREMIAH 29:1-7


from the artist // LAUREN WRIGHT PITTMAN


I moved to a new state. As I write, I’m living out of boxes, the
trunk of my car, and a storage unit. It’s a jarring experience
to move, even when it’s a conscious choice. I’ve found
myself in a place that resembles almost nothing like what
I’d envisioned for my life. I left a city burgeoning with
opportunities and culture; now I’m in a small town where
I’d be thrilled to find one decent, local coffee shop. I’m
beginning to realize visions about the future I wasn’t even
aware of. These unrealized dreams took root in my being in a
way that feels defining to who I am.


Something happens deep in our core when we feel out of
place. The day I moved my immune system failed and I became
sick and disoriented. The Israelites were forced into exile,
ripped from their homes, places of worship, and way of life.
They find themselves in Babylon where they dream of the
day they’d return to where they belong. Jeremiah’s words are
comforting, yet painful. They are told to stay, plant gardens,
and allow their families to flourish in this strange land. I’m
sure this was disappointing, but when you hold onto the past,
you miss the richness of the present. "Seek the welfare of
the city where I have sent you” (Jer. 29:7). Maybe when our
lives unravel in transition, the loose ends of our dreams, the
friends we leave behind, and the paths untraveled can become
the roots that stabilize us in the new place where we find
ourselves. These threads can create grounding that nourishes
and transforms us into something new. This new place can be
a gift—a place of flourishing and a conduit for deep, authentic
connection with self and community.
 

RESPOND: Look

Take a few moments to gaze upon the artwork. Breathe
deeply in quiet meditation as you observe the visual
qualities of what you see: color, line, texture, movement,
shape, form.
Now take a deeper look. What parts of the image are your
eyes most drawn to? What parts of the image did you
overlook?
Now engage your imagination. What story do you imagine
for each of the figures?

reflect
- What has unraveled and/or is unraveling in this story?
- What kinds of dreams need to die in order for your
community to prosper?
- Where do you see social exile occuring in your
own city? What communities have been uprooted,
disempowered, and marginalized? What does it
look like to garden—literally and metaphorically—in these spaces?






Friday, January 17, 2020

The Game

Football isn’t the only game in this state! I, like many others, follow the nationally ranked, University of NE women’s volleyball team. Several weeks ago, my husband, Gregg, and I were settled in our family room, anxiously awaiting the much anticipated top 10 matchup. Gregg set up the DVR to record the game. We then viewed the game 15-30 minutes later so we could fast forward through the commercials and time-outs. The Huskers came out firing on all cylinders, and won the first two, best of five, sets. They’re looking good; I’m feeling good! The next set, they faltered a bit. “Ok, we’ll let the other team have one”, I said to my fidgeting self. The fourth set was even worse. Oh, no! Dread was setting in. The Huskers seemed to have lost their rhythm and the other team found theirs. Ugh! We had one final set to decide the match. The momentum was definitely swinging in favor of the opponent. My stomach was turned upside down, heart pounding, body tense, and emotions high! 

The fifth and final set begins. The score was tied 3-3. I’m thinking, “oh dear, I might have to go to bed. I can’t watch! My heart can’t take this anymore!” About that time, I received a text from my son, who had been watching the game in actual time (15 minutes ahead of us). I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read, “How bout those Huskers! Great come back and win, huh!” Well, I’ll be darned! With a smile coming across my face, I breathed a sigh of relief and watched until the end of the game. I felt myself relaxing into my chair, my breathing slowed, pulse returning to normal. I cheered and truly enjoyed the last points of the match…mostly because I knew the outcome. 

Wouldn’t that be nice if life was like that?! If we only knew how it was going to turn out; oh, the strain and stress we could save ourselves! In my humanness, I want control of my future and experiences (and everybody else’s!). I am impatient, prideful, and critical. I don’t understand the “whys” or the waiting for answers. Direction seems absent; the pain is never-ending; doubt, anger, and fear persist; with no end in sight. The struggle is exhausting. Where is my faith?

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), life isn’t like that. God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God desires that we release the hold on our future, worries, and doubts and surrender them to him. Our faith will be deepened as we rest assured that He is walking with us every step and has our best interest in mind. We can live out a joyful life in praise, gratitude, and humility, when we trust in His plan and look forward to a hopeful future; no matter the outcome, what happens along the way, or how long it takes. Whether the score says it or not, we’ll still feel like winners when we see the fingerprints of God in our lives. 

Prayer: Jesus, our friend, thank you for your ever-steadfast love. We ask for your mercy in times when we flounder on our own. Thank you for bringing us back to you. Lift us, calm us, comfort and encourage us as we relinquish control to you. Help us keep our eyes on you, emotions in check, pride at bay, and feet on the ground. You are our trusted rock and redeemer! Amen

Diane Worrell Eaton


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Soul Shine

“Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16

Let your soul shine” was a quote I saw on a wall calendar.  I googled it and learned that “Soulshine” is a song written by Warren Haynes. It was originally recorded by Larry McCray on his 1993 album, “Delta Hurricane.”  It is famously known by the recording that Haynes’ band, The Allman Brothers Band, released on their 1994 album, “Where it All Begins.”  Gregg Allman sang lead vocals. The title, “Soulshine” originates from Hayne’s nickname, given by his father.

A few of the song’s words are quoted here:

“When you can’t find the light

That got you through the cloudy days.
   
He (daddy) used to say, soul shine,

It’s better than sunshine,

It’s better than moonshine.

You gotta let your soul shine,

Shine till the break of day.”

I recall a song we sang at church camps:

“Rise, Shine, Give God your glory, glory. (repeat)

Rise and shine, and give God your glory, glory,

Children of the Lord.”

How will we let our soul shine reflecting God’s love this day, this week, this year?

Prayer: God, remind us to let our soul shine in response to your love for us. Amen.

Lois Poppe