Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Alive and Kicking

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)


Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word, but does not do what it says, is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it--not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it--they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25 (NIV)


In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead... You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:17 & 20-22 (NIV)


Though I try to daily hear God's “alive and active” word, my faith is barely surviving. How can this be?  Scripture reminds us that faith and actions work together...they depend on each other. They're only “alive” when they work together. Somewhere in the process between hearing God's word and putting it into action, I get stuck--and not always in the same place. To better understand what's happening, I broke down the parts of the process, and came up with these: hearing (this includes reading), listening (paying attention), pondering, understanding (comprehending), believing, trusting (having faith), being motivated and acting. It seems to me that all these parts--not necessarily in that exact order-- are important to the survival of my faith.


For example, I daily open the Bible app on my phone and either listen to a few chapters of scripture or read the verse of the day. I've been pretty proud of myself for sticking with that, but have realized that sometimes I'm hearing, but not listening...or maybe listening, but not always taking the time to ponder and better understand. Sometimes I do actually reach the point of trusting, but often lack the motivation to follow through. And if I do manage to act, it's sometimes more out of duty than love. 


It's frustrating that I'm often needing to revive my faith. I want it to not just survive, but thrive! But how do I get there? Prayer! First, I need to ask God what's causing me to get stuck. Is it selfishness, fear, insecurity, laziness or something else? Then I need to pray the message found in Philippians 2:13: “God, work in me to overcome these obstacles, by giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases you.”  The enemy will daily try to thwart my plans, but specific and persistent prayer will help me to resist. I look forward to one day having a faith that's “alive and kicking”!


Prayer: Infinitely wise God, forgive us for not doing everything we can to help our faith thrive. Please give us the desire and power to do what pleases you each and every day. And thank you for providing us with Your word-- an invaluable tool for doing your work in this world. Amen.


Sharon Irvin

Monday, October 22, 2018

Thanks for Pastors

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

This scripture is the verse of the day on BibleGateway.com, which I often use to look up Bible verses. The first part is familiar to us as it’s similar to the words spoken by our pastors in the prayer before the sermon in worship services. 

October is Pastor Appreciation Month and we’re asked to take action to let our pastors know how important they are to us. It doesn’t have to be much—just telling them we appreciate them can be enough. When we work, we often wish we were thanked more often or felt more appreciated. We have the chance to let our pastors know we’re grateful for them. 

I found a poem by Judy Crowe for pastor appreciation month, and the first and last verses state (with a little editing):

Have you ever walked in our pastors’ shoes,
And gone where their feet have trod?
Have you ever thought of what they mean to us,
And on your knees, given thanks to God?

Eastridge is blessed with pastors who have different gifts to share with us. Let us remember throughout the year to give thanks to God for their service with us. (And even though there is no staff appreciation month, let us remember and give thanks for the staff members who support the pastors.)

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for sending Melodie and Thomas to serve our church at this place and time. Help us to remember each day that they are here to guide us on our journey. And help us to let them know we are thankful for them. Amen.

Robin Hadfield

Friday, October 19, 2018

Remembering Those Suffering


Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

October is National Domestic Violence Month. For many years, Eastridge has participated in the Friendship Home Safe Quarters drive. This program asks teams in the community to gather and walk door to door collecting change for women in need of a safe place to stay. Statistically, women are at greatest risk of violence and death from their domestic partner within the first few weeks of leaving. 

Nearly all of us know someone who has been abused in a relationship. The good friend in high school whose boyfriend was jealous and paranoid and didn’t want her to be around anyone but him. The family member whose husband is overbearing, threatening and a bully. The colleague whose wife disrupts his work with screaming matches and threats. The woman at church who comes every week with her kids, sitting in a pew and begging God to protect her family. 

All of these people are scared, and all of them need your prayers, your support, your understanding. It seems so simple to tell someone to leave their abuser, but the person in that position knows, with all their heart, that this will be a dangerous, life changing decision. Do not discount their fear. They may be the only ones who truly know what their partner is capable of. If they leave and return, the abuser will have something new to bring to the fight and they will know that the victim will come back to them. If they leave and know that they will never go back, they are risking their life to be free. It’s not just a break-up, it’s not just a divorce, it is a plan to leave a hostage situation. 

This October, examine the relationships that you have. Are you being abused?  Do you have a good friend who is in a dangerous relationship? Do you know that someone is being abused? What can you do to help them be courageous?  What can you do to save someone else’s life? Certainly we can all give a little change for that… 

Prayer: God, who knows all our fears and pains, be with those who are abused and afraid.  Help us to be watchful and mindful of the experiences of those around us and to support and protect them.  Help us all find a place in our prayers for others who are suffering.    

Christi Moock

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Serve the Living God!

 
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.  Colossians 3:23-24   

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7   

You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. Deuteronomy 13:4  



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Politics Then and Now


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no accord of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

“Prairie Fires” by Caroline Fraser, about Laura Ingalls Wilder, was a choice for One Lincoln Book and is the book I just finished. “A Godly Hero” telling about The Life of William Jennings Bryan is the book I am reading now. Both of these well-known historic personalities were involved in the political scene of the day. Laura became more and more involved as her daughter became a well-known writer also. Michael Kazin who wrote the book about our Nebraska native Bryan said Bryan did more than anyone to transform the Democratic Party from a bulwark of laissez-faire to the citadel of liberalism we identify with Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was actually nominated for president in in 1896, 1900 and 1908. He fell short each time he tried to obtain the highest office in our country. There were some rough times detailed in the book.

This history made me realize our political system had some of the same good and bad personalities, arguments and difficulties as we do today. It is hard in today’s environment to be patient, not envy, boast or be proud. We certainly see a lot of rude folks.

Can we live giving God’s love rejoicing in the love talked about in 1 Corinthians which will protect us, give us faith and hope, and perseveres when all around us we see anger and wrongs?

Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, help us dig into your words and treat our families, neighbors and friends with the love you speak about.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Clear Thinking and Common Sense

Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life;
   don't for a minute lose sight of them.
They'll keep your soul alive and well,
   they'll keep you fit and attractive.
You'll travel safely,
   you'll neither tire nor trip.
You'll take afternoon naps without a worry,
   you'll enjoy a good night's sleep.
No need to panic over alarms or surprises,
   or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner,
Because God will be right there with you;
   he'll keep you safe and sound.                                                                        Proverbs 3:21-26 (The Message)

  
This has been a difficult period in our country as we have become more divided than ever over political issues. The media sometimes adds to the concerns we have when they discuss the issues. I’ve heard commentators use the words “fear” and “panic” when they discuss the public’s reactions to the news of the day.

This passage from Proverbs advises us to keep our sound judgment and use common sense, for they will help us on our travels. Especially appropriate is the section suggesting that we don’t need to panic over predictions about doomsday—because God is with us and will keep us safe and sound.

How appropriate it is to reconsider these words from thousands of years ago.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed when it seems all the news is bad and there doesn’t seem to be any hope. We worry about the political scene, climate change, the economy, health care, and education, to name a few. But worry doesn’t really get us anywhere. It merely diverts our attention from honoring God for our blessings.
            
Eastridge will soon be conducting its stewardship campaign, and it might be tempting to fall prey to all the negative news around us and think our church pledge is an item that can be moved to a lower priority. However, the next verses of the Proverbs chapter advise us not to take such action:

         Never walk away from someone who deserves help;
               your hand is God's hand for that person.
            Don't tell your neighbor "Maybe some other time"
               or "Try me tomorrow" when the money's right there in your pocket.

The church budget includes money to operate the church building and programs, but it also includes funding for local, national, and international mission projects. Prayerfully consider your situation when completing your pledge form. Remember that God is always there and will provide, and try not to succumb to the fear and panic that seems all around us. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, We thank you for giving us common sense and good judgment. We need your assistance to remember our blessings amidst the “fear” and “panic” that seems to be everywhere today.  We know you are always there and will keep us safe.  Help us to always understand that we can reach out to others, for our hands can be your hands.

Robin Hadfield

Monday, October 15, 2018

Rest


The Lord replied: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus: 33:14

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I have been thinking about the word “rest” lately. Dictionary.com defines the word as: relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs. a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility: to go away for a rest. mental or spiritual calm; tranquility. the repose of death: eternal rest. cessation or absence of motion: to bring a machine to rest.

When we were children, my mom would have my siblings and I lay down for a “rest.” Not be confused or encouraged to take a nap, it was just time to be still for a bit. Naturally we usually fell asleep anyway. A much needed rest for rambunctious little bodies. Needless to say, I carried this over to my children too.  At Camp Calvin Crest, our kids had FOB time—Flat On Back—reflection and rest time.

When we awake from a very restful sleep, both our bodies and our minds are renewed. One can’t happen without the other: sleep is interrupted with a distracted mind (3:00 a.m. thoughts anyone?); and a relaxed mind is distracted with an uncomfortable body. When we combine physical and mental rest with spiritual rest in Jesus, that is the ultimate state of rest, calm and tranquility. Resting in Jesus, giving everything over to Him, is a lesson I keep relearning. Thankfully, He is a patient teacher.

Prayer: Dear Jesus , You offer rest to us at every turn if only we would come rest at your feet and let go of our burdens. Thank you for patiently waiting on us to talk to you, our faithful and loving Savior. Amen.

Cathy Schapmann