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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too.  You will be like a well watered garden, like an ever flowing spring. Isaiah 58:11   

Everything in my life seems to be tied to my level of physical fitness.  When I feel better, when my body is working without so much effort, I am more free to do more things with more energy and joy.  Improving my health is now a very high priority for me, but I find it an area in which I am likely to become discouraged by the slowness of progress.  I am learning perseverance, and respecting the immense value of that skill.  My body needs to be continually nudged into remembering what it feels like to move and flex and stretch. 
Recently we had some gentle rainfall over the course of an entire day, instead of the summer storms that lap against our basements. I appreciated again the beauty of raindrops and the life-giving nature of water.  Our bodies are composed of so much water, and water surrounded us as we grew where our original seeds were planted.   Water is blessed for our baptism, water sustains us, water cleans us.  Those raindrops inspired me to use my daily shower as a time for renewal and cleansing, because part of me needs to let go of burdens that are holding me back from focusing on protecting and promoting my health.  Beyond that, I am grateful for the image of tiny raindrops and little steps collectively bringing about more massive things.  Finally, the energy of moving water, whether in pattering drops, splashing fountains, bubbling wells, river currents, or ocean waves, is a lovely constant to tune into when my efforts are flagging.  I can't always exercise in water, but I can imagine the feeling of swimming, of propelling myself through that soothing environment, which, due to my body makeup, also supports me with so much buoyancy. 

My daughter has been hospitalized the last two weeks for an infection, in a Korean hospital near her current home with her Korean husband, whom she married a year ago.  She has been on IV fluids with medications mixed in, and I imagine that slow drip going into the line, through her veins. I am visualizing her healing by picturing the blessings of those restorative fluids.   That kind of slow drip is what I realize is the way to become a tiny bit healthier every day.  This is a race for the tortoise me, not the hare me; although I hope to move my body less like a tortoise and more like a hare as this process goes on. 
Prayer: God of tiny droplets and slow drips, thank you for the miracle of every cell that makes up the body you have blessed me with.  Help me with what I put into my body and what I do with my body.  Open my eyes to the full joy of living in your healing love.  Let me learn how to love all of me as much as you do.  Give me your rain to wash away what is holding me back, and help me to clear the way for the ever flowing spring of your energy.  Baptize me daily in your font, so that I can be new as I start over again and again. Send your healing to all those whom I encounter, and help me also to be a fountain of your healing.  Amen.

Mollie Manner


Tuesday, August 30, 2016




I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14: 6

So Philip ran up and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I", he said, "unless someone guides me?"  And he invited Philip to come and sit with him. Acts 8: 30-31

The house I grew up in at 6811 Monterey Drive, in the 1960s was the perfect place to grow up - at least for a child learning to navigate directions. One block to the east of us was East Hills Country Club.  One block to the south of our house was South Street.  From there, it was very easy to figure out west and north.

Since most kids don't live one block north of south and one block west of east, there must be other ways to learn to orient and navigate, but in this way my early education was simplified. With this firm foundation in a kid's logic, the world was an easy place to navigate.  And I still don't usually have trouble finding my way around.

In the same way, I can't imagine learning to navigate life and grow to be an adult of integrity without strong influences of character - without Jesus and godly people to walk in the footsteps of.  In addition to growing up in the center of a compass, I also was blessed to be raised by parents and a congregation who consistently and constantly steered me toward God.  So many people, especially in the world today, don't have that good fortune. Thankfully, it's never too late for people to be introduced to the Bible, to Jesus, and to people who can help them to understand the life Jesus demonstrated to us - a life of relationships, and caring, and teaching and healing; a life lived in obedience to God.

Just like there are many ways to learn our directions, there are also many ways people come to Christ. Some routes are easy and direct and consistent. Other paths wander and go in the wrong direction. Those of us who are blessed with a Christian community and a lifetime to learn about Christ, need to patiently and willingly accept and help those who are still learning.  Our lives may be the only Bible some people may read - may it be Good News!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, into your Hand, I place my worries, cares, and troubles. Into your Wisdom, I place my path, my direction, and my goal.  Into your love, I place my life.  Amen  (prayer author unknown)

Contributed by Lori Snyder-Sloan

Monday, August 29, 2016


After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and his children's children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days. Job 42:16-17 (NRSV)

I helped serve the luncheon after Joanne Smith's memorial service.  I am generally saddened when someone dies.  I was particularly touched because she was younger that I am.  Her mother is still living and attended.  I've heard that there is no more sadness than to bury your child, no matter the age of the child.

It is unlikely that any of us will live 140 years like Job, but I hope we can live a good, long life.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Give us the strength to live well until the end of our days, and help us to remember all those who have gone before.  In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen

Kathy Kuehn

Friday, August 26, 2016

Trust and Obey

Don't you know?  Haven't you heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God; he created all the world.  He never grows tired or weary.

No one understands his thoughts.  He strengthens those who are weak and tired.  Even those who are young grow weak; young men can fall exhausted.   But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed.  They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.  Isaiah 40:28-31

This is my favorite passage in the whole Bible.  I guess it's my favorite because the eagle is our national  bird, and it is a very noble bird.   It's sort of like God in that respect.  It watches over, feeds its young, hunts food and guards its young and at one point in an eagle's life, the female tears out all her old feathers, cleans herself up and becomes a totally new being.   Just like Christians can become new in Christ.

The author also emphasizes that those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed, they will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.  The author is saying that God will help us if we are tired or weak, and he knows if we are suffering and feel like we can't go on with our journey.  He is there for us, and he knows we are struggling.   He'll be with us all the way. 

But, we have to listen to God.  As the old hymn says, "Trust and obey, there is no other way." 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,  we thank you for your loving care.   Thank you for the wonderful eagle, our intelligent and beautiful national symbol.  May he be the symbol of loyalty and faithfulness to us, and an example to the whole world, that our strength will be strong.  Help us to fight evil in a flawed world.

Gerry Draney

Thursday, August 25, 2016

To God Be the Glory


To God be the glory, great things he hath done!

So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,

who yielded his life an atonement for sin,

and opened the lifegate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,

let the earth hear his voice!

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,

let the people rejoice!

O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son,

and give him the glory, great things he hath done!

"Frame your experience in a way that gives meaning to what you are going thru.  Let the words that come out of your mouth reflect the good side of what's happening." Amy Grant

Whether you're an Olympic athlete giving God the glory for your stellar performance and amazing talent, or someone going through unimaginably difficult times, there is always a choice of where to place your focus.  Will the focus of your words about it be on the personal struggle, the difficulties faced in the past or in the future, or will your focus be on the good that is being worked out in the current situation?

Maybe you've also noticed the Olympians who, at the time of their greatest accomplishments, use the spotlight to point to God as the source of their talent and opportunity and strength.  They could quite appropriately frame their achievements as the result of a lifetime of hard work.  Instead, one after another has chosen to say, "To God be the glory."  One athlete went so far as to state that his sports ability does not define him, even at its highest point, and it wouldn't define him if he failed to achieve.  His identity comes as a Child of God.

Or maybe you've known someone like my friend Kathy, who is carrying a load of stress and anxiety that would crumble most people, including me.  She feels the pain, and I know she's cried tears and prayed a lot.  But she is also choosing to frame this in a manner that gives meaning to the God is bringing from the terrible situation to accomplish goals for the Kingdom and for her.

There is meaning in triumph and happiness, and there is meaning in pain and suffering.  When we look, God is at work in all things. When we look for Him, we see fingerprints all over our lives.  Whether we choose to look, though, is up to us.  When we DO see God, the words coming out of our mouth can help others to see Him too.

Prayer: Praise be to you, my God, my Father. In my finest hour and in my darkest night, You walk beside me.  You shepherd me and work everything for good, sometimes in ways that are hard to see.  Every minute of my life has meaning. Help me to look and to see all the good that is happening, and to share that goodness with others.  Thank you for those, like the Olympians, like Amy Grant, and like my friend Kathy, who You use to show me a better way.  Amen

Contributed by Lori Snyder-Sloan

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Useless Vine

The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, how is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest?  Is wood ever taken from it to make anything useful. Ezekiel 15:1-2

I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful, declares the Sovereign Lord.  Ezekiel 15:8

This month I have been reading in the book of Ezekiel  and I read the above scripture and it spoke to me.  I realized the Ezekiel uses dramatic portrayal to arouse the curiosity of the people.  This scripture could be for us today as well as when the scripture was written.  It was to rivet their attention on the events soon to transpire in Jerusalem.  Packing his household belongings, Ezekiel heads for the city wall, where he digs a hole and climbs through---a picture of the soon-coming deportation of the people and the loss of all they called home.

Look around your house, and see if you can find at least five things that are virtually useless: broken shoestrings, pens with no ink, etc.

In chapter 15, Ezekiel likens Jerusalem to a useless vine.  Vines are excellent for growing fruit, but good for little else.  You can't make furniture or build a fire with them, or turn them into anything particularly useful. In fact, a vine that is fruitless is worthless.

The inhabitants of Jerusalem were worthless to God because of their wickedness and idolatry. They failed to produce the fruit God expected from them.  Check up on your usefulness quotient today. Does God have free rein to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life?  It is one of the reasons Go has placed us on this planet.

PRAYER:  Lord, help us to grow so that we can let you have free rein in our life so that we can be useful and produce the fruit you want from us.  Amen

Marilyn (Jones) Albin

Monday, August 22, 2016

Seeking Wisdom


But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Proverbs 19:30

For the last several weeks my role at work has been changing as we prepare for a large, long lasting project.   I am not always certain what actions or steps to take next and the waiting is uncomfortable and sometimes terrifying.  As I have begun this process there have been a-ha moments where I gain a deeper understanding of my role and its significance but also moments where I wonder if I have made the right decision.  As humans, we often struggle with change and it is hard to wait patiently and be disciplined.

With these changes I am trying to listen to God and ask for guidance. From the little things, like how do I get to and from work without the frustrations of commuting using a different route. To the big things, working with someone who has a very different style than I do.  As I have experienced these changes I have thought of little phrases I have heard over the years - Let go and Let God, worrying is like praying for bad things to happen, and my personal favorite -   I don't have to know all the answers and if I don't, I don't have to pretend that I do (Sinek).

Prayer: Lord Jesus - help me to gain wisdom as I embark on a change in my life.  Help me to be patient and enjoy the experience!

Christi Moock

Friday, August 19, 2016



Philippians 4:4  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice!

Recently I read a post on Facebook and its main idea was- throw away what does not bring you joy.  Joy is an emotion of pleasure or gladness.  With my Bible's Dictionary/Concordance, I found the New Testament book of Philippians. Paul wrote to Philippi, from prison, to strengthen these believers by showing them that true joy comes from Jesus Christ and having a relationship with Jesus. The theme of Philippians is Joy. Paul's aspiration was to seek to know Jesus Christ and true joy more and more and he wanted the people of Philippi and each of us and find true joy in Christ. Find Philippians and find the theme of joy. Think about finding true Joy and strengthening that joy daily. Do not throw true Joy away. 
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank for the true Joy in Jesus. Strengthen our Joy in Jesus and do not let us throw it away.

Submitted by Susan Taylor (

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jesus Incognito

Mt. 25:31-45: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

These are the reflections Jo Bateman provided on choosing her favorite text:
I thought long and hard about choosing this passage. As a person who was created very left handed, and deals with the challenges of living in a world designed for right handed people, it bothers me that, even in scripture, the left hand is considered the negative side.   Couldn't it just say "some on one hand and some on the other?" And, what about the goats? Depending on your situation, couldn't goats be as valuable as sheep?   But moving past these distractions, I find this scripture meaningful for two reasons.  First of all, it clearly describes what it means to live like Christ, to step out of our comfort zone and serve others with love and compassion, treating them as we would want to be treated or have our loved ones treated. Secondly,  we are told this love loving care of others is the basis on which we will be judged by our God, and not by standards we or others might choose. It is humbling to realize how many times each and every day, through our interactions with others, we have the opportunity to live as Christ would have us live, doing our part making life better for our fellow children of God.  As we are often told "It is all that easy and it is all that hard."

Sermon excerpt (August 14, 2016)
"Trois Pommes" is a little boutique in Zurich's prime shopping district. It sells purses and handbags - and not exactly the cheapest ones.. On an rainy day in August, a woman enters the store and begins to browse. At some point she goes up to the clerk and asks if she could have a closer look of that black bag on display behind her.
The clerk looks at her - and then says: How about you have a look at this one instead, because that one will cost too much, you will not be able to afford that one.
Now granted the purse was indeed very expensive, and the clerk maybe really just wanted to look out for her customer. And yet, this probably wasn't the best customer service. What made matters even more controversial was the fact that the customer in this instance was black. However, what made the story actually hit the media was the fact that the black woman was Oprah Winfrey who happened to be in Switzerland for Tina Turner's wedding.
I'm sure there were many things that went through that store clerk's head after this incident. One of them, I imagine, was: "If only I had known it was her!"
I remember in my days as a seminary student, in my part-time job at the gym (...), every once in a while our boss would call us all together, all employees, and said: be en guard. We all knew what that meant.
For a the next couple weeks, we tried super hard to be more friendly on the phone as usual. We tried to be even more knowledgeable to people who inquired about our contracts or our programs. We would mix that protein shake graciously and with a dedication as if our lives depended on it.
Because chances were that the random stranger we were talking to was the one who would decide if we would retain or lose the accreditation with the nationwide gym association. As you imagine, the air was usually a little bit tense. But then again, at least it was not unannounced.
I don't know about you, but I am not a big fan of being under judgment.
And this includes the idea of the final judgment.
I struggle with 'judgment Jesus'. If I could pick just one, I would stick with 'gentle savior Jesus'. The one who blesses the children and welcomes those who carry heavy burdens. The one who heals, who eats and drinks with sinners and outcasts and gives second chances to those caught doing wrong. The one who stretches his arms open wide on the cross, praying, father forgive, for they do not know... and two days later breathes the spirit of forgiveness and new life into the disciples' heart who were overcome by fear and guilt. That is the Jesus I love.
I struggle with this image of the Son of Man in our text: who is to come with the clouds, takes a seat on the throne, and then begins the harsh business of sorting out.
I wonder: How do these two fit together?
Can I trust the one who offers grace and forgiveness, or is he in the end going to say: sorry, but you should have tried a little harder? (You're fired!)
I struggle with the vision of a final judgment - especially, when it is, like our text seems to suggest, a judgment based solely on what we did, not on what we said or believed. And I want to say: Matthew, did you not read what Paul wrote: we're saved by grace and not by works? What are you holding up this vision of the final judgment here at the end of your gospel? I don't like this emphasis on judgment. I am afraid I'll never pass the test.
But maybe this image of the judgment isn't here to scare us - but more as a reminder to check our pulse. The Rev. Lindsey P. Anderson in a commentary compares it to her annual wellness check - something that can be very uncomfortable, and yet life saving! Because it is so easy to get off track, especially when 'life happens' and we think we have it all figured out.
When Jesus preaches judgment, she says, it is with our overall wellness in mind: "It's purpose is not to condemn or scare but to provide a s snapshot of our overall health (...) and growth that should lead to new habits and ays of life. After all, as our doctor wants us to flourish, so does our Creator, Redeemer, Judge, and King."
Heart health is crucial. The image of the Son of Man separating the sheep and goats shakes up our self-centered living, especially whe we run in danger that we're distancing ourselves from others, allowing apathy to grow in us like a tumor, expecting that our actions have no real consequences. This wellness check lifts up the importance of what we do with our lives, and whether we actually mean it when we say we love our neighbor as ourselves, and whether or not it includes those that the world finds unlovable.
When I think back of middle school, there are not too many memories. And I'm grateful for that. Because, life in middle school was tough. Somehow I didn't get the memo that trying to be the teacher's pet and a church mouse won't make me the most popular kid in class. There was only one consolation. A farm girl - let's call her Tammy - who was just one, two ranks below me on the social latter. "She stinks", we'd say. And I was just happy for not being the butt of the joke for once.
Then one day, we lost a classmate through a tragic accident. And the idea of death entered the conversations of these 5th graders. As well as our dreams.
One dream I will never forget. I dreamed I had died. I wasn't afraid or anything, because I believed in Jesus, and was this good kid. In fact I was actually very excited to see Jesus for the first time from face to face. And then heaven's gate opens. And then I see the face of Tammy.
One key element of this judgment scene is that it is a moment of surprise.
Where did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick or in prison, and we didn't serve you, the goats protest at the end of the parable in shock. What they're actually saying is: If we had known it was you... If I had known we'd get inspected today... if I had known Oprah came to my store... then of course we would have acted differently! They still don't get it.
And maybe this is what really separates them from the sheep: Because those have shown love, true love, by serving freely, completely unaware that they were doing any of this for the King of all creation.
And this is the love Christ is looking for: Love experienced in deeds of love and mercy. Love that is not calculated or expected. Love that reaches out to those undervalued by the standards of this world. Love that leads us to the places where it hurts.
And Christ is already there.
Thomas Dummermuth (

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


A Better Life

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Colossians 4:1-3 (The Message) 
It's criminal to ignore a neighbor in need, but compassion for the poor-what a blessing! Proverbs 14:21 (The Message)
And then take on an entirely new way of life-a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:19-21 (The Message)
In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. Ephesians 4:24 (The Message)
I recently heard a speaker who suggested four components that can help each of us live a better life. First, live with gratitude. Second, live with compassion. Third, try to do something in a new or novel way. And fourth, connect deeply.
All of these concepts are included in the Bible, as noted above. And they're all ideas that can help make us better Christians. If we live with gratitude, we become more aware of all the blessings we have received from God. And if we focus on the things we can be grateful for, maybe we can turn away from some of the negative thinking we often carry with us.
Living with compassion means caring for others around us. Just as Jesus did. There are a number of ways we can demonstrate compassion--by donating money to charities or by volunteering to help those in need. But we can also show concern in our everyday interactions with those around us. It only requires that we stop to listen to a friend's problem or that we say hello to a stranger on the street.
Taking action in a new way can also be simple. Read a nonfiction book rather than a mystery. Attend a documentary instead of a violent action movie. Talk to someone new at church. Or it can be more involved: like learning to speak a different language.
The most important, but also the most difficult, of the suggestions for how to live a better life may be the final one: connect deeply. We need human interaction, but it needs to be more than just saying "How are you?" Friendships are vital to good mental and physical health. And faith can help us develop deeper connections with others. Sharing our faith with friends builds stronger friendships. And as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:20 of The Message, we should become friends with God because he's already a friend with us. We can lead better lives with God's help.
Prayer: Dear God, We're often looking for ways to make our lives better. These four notions may help us. But we know, Lord, that our lives will definitely be improved if we strive to be your friend, as you are our friend. Please be with us as we try to be grateful, compassionate, brave enough to try new things, and connected. Amen.

Robin Hadfield

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Follow me.


Mark 10: 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Matthew 4: 18-20 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me", Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of me." And at once they left their nets and followed Him...."

Matthew 16: 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

When we visit my daughter, Melanie, in Lawrence, Kansas, we love to worship with her at Velocity. The pastor there has always had meaningful messages, and his message in June was no exception. His message was entitled "Full" and challenged us all to make time for the most important things. Several times he said, "It's not about rejection. It's about protection. It's about saying "no" to good things, so you can say "yes" to great things." Sometimes it's about protecting time for family, or quiet, or relationships. Sometimes it's about protecting time for Jesus.

In our church's study of Bob Goff's book "Love Does", he uses the three scripture passages above to remind us that when Jesus says 'follow me', He realizes there is a cost involved. Sometimes we may have to leave behind a livelihood, or a relationship, or our treasures. Sometimes it's our comfort zone, our personal time, or our privacy. These are all fine things, but to really follow Jesus in our lives, not just acknowledge him in our minds, requires that choices are made. Sometimes we, like the rich ruler in the Mark passage, we think the cost is just too great and we walk away. Our time, our finances, our family, our _____, won't allow it. But I'm reminded of the sermon message - sometimes we need to say "no" to good things in order to say "yes" to great things.

The God who called us and wants the best for us will not leave us in need when we give ourselves to him.

Sometimes, in order to follow Jesus, we have to say "no" to something good so you can say "yes" to something great.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you give us all the good things in our lives. And sometimes we hold onto these good things so tightly that we miss the opportunity to seek great things in your name. Help us to see these times for what they are, so we don't miss the beautiful chances we have to glorify you. Amen

Contributed by Lori Snyder-Sloan




Monday, August 15, 2016

Living Water

Scripture:There came a woman of Samaria to draw water.  John 4:7

Jesus was very tired the day he and his disciples reached Samaria, so much so that he sent the disciples into town to buy food while he waited by the village well.  Soon a woman from the village came to collect water.  It was a little odd because it was almost noon, much too hot for a woman to collect water and lug it back to her home.  With great tack and courtesy, Jesus asked the woman for a drink.  He knew this woman needed what he alone could give. You can almost hear her sneer as she asks him why he, a Jew, would ask her, a female Samaritan, for a drink.  (Jews and Samaritans did not socialize.)  Jesus's gentle answer might surprise us today for he told her that if she know who was asking she would readily ask and he would give her "Living Water".  His answer sparked her curiosity and her response changed from curt to respectful.  "Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep, where do get that living water"?  The woman is now convinced that this man is different and she has a deep yearning for the water he offers. Jesus fills her deep yearning and she runs back to her village to tell everyone about the man at the well. Thus she became the first Christian Missionary.

When we take a close look at this story we gain insight into how Jesus deals with people, both in the past and in the present.  In this story, Jesus uses great tack, combined with love and gentleness to show the woman her spiritual need.  Jesus still leads us to the "Living Water", which we receive as His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Thank you Father, for the gentle reminders that we also have a great need for the "Living Water", the presence of Jesus in our life.  Amen.

Noel and Jane DeKalb

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ghanaian Presbyterian Minister is Among International Peacemakers Visiting this Fall

Scripture: Acts 7:17-29

"But as the time drew near for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt.  He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his father's house; and when he was abandoned, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds.

"When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites. When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. The next day he came to some of them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other?' But the man who was wronging his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.

Rev. Gladys Lariba Mahama has a big job. She is a minister with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, serving five congregations spread across the upper eastern region. She is also the women's coordinator for the Northern Presbytery and a social worker. Her work keeps her busy, but the impact is rewarding.

Mahama is one of nearly a dozen International Peacemakers who will be speaking across the United States this fall, giving Presbyterians and others an opportunity to learn about the church's work in a part of the world they may not be familiar with.

"As a social worker I have worked under the GO Home Project of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, which seeks to reintegrate women who have been identified as 'witches' that are eventually sent back to their communities," she said. "I have also been working on an association for widows. It is difficult to reach all of the people I need to see because of a lack of adequate transportation in the area."

Mahama says the illiteracy rate of these communities is high, making it difficult to communicate. She often needs someone to accompany her who can translate the English language. Because most of the people are small-scale farmers, she finds it hard to reach many of the people during rainy seasons.

Despite the hardships, Mahama says she finds the work rewarding.

"One thing I believe in the work of God is that the inheritance of heaven awaits me, and that is what gives me the passion to work," she said. "Due to the nature of this work, I believe I have gotten a lot of exposure because I meet different people day in and day out. I have learned so much from others."

Mahama and the other scheduled peacemakers will speak around the country from September 23 to October 17. The group gathers in Louisville before and after their visits for orientation and debriefing. Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, says visits by each peacemaker usually last between three and five days. Not all visits must include a weekend. Midweek visits are recommended for colleges, universities or theological institutions.

Mahama is hopeful American congregations will be inspired by what she has to say, and she plans to spend a lot of time promoting peace.

"Peace is a key ingredient in a successful human life," she said. "I will therefore talk much about peace, good relationships, tolerance, hard work and the seriousness in working for God. People should be willing to come and listen. I will base my speech on participatory method; therefore, I will expect all of us to share ideas and learn from each other."

Mahama finds the work of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program very important in today's world.

"I work with all manner of people from different tribes, clans and even communities. It is incumbent on all to embrace peace in order to live in harmony so that we can grow as individuals and a nation as a whole," she said. "As a minister of God, I need peace to promote the word of God. Without peace, people will not be willing to listen."

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has invited leaders from partner denominations and organizations to visit the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for more than 30 years. As many as 57 countries have been represented by the speakers as they have traveled to churches, synods, presbyteries and educational institutions.

Other peacemakers will be coming from Colombia, Cuba, Hungary, Iran, Israel/Palestine, Kenya, Niger, South Sudan, Syria and Uruguay.

Rick Jones, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Prayer: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. John 14:16-17

Friday, August 12, 2016



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

Proverbs  22:1    A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.  

       Recently I found an old autograph book that I had when I was ten years old.  It was a typical old fashioned tattered book with lots of silly verses written by my classmates and friends.   You know the kind of verse i mean-"When you get married and have twins-don't come to my house for safety pins."

        Another one was: '" I love you little, I love you big, I love you like a little pig."  And then there was, "Down in the valley, carved on a tree, are two little words, 'Remember Me' ".

        But the sweetest verse in the whole book was a Bible verse copied by my Dad.  It said, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,. Lots of love and good wishes,  Daddy."

        My parents were faithful Christians, and I was raised in the Presbyterian  Church, and I've been there ever since. Children are God's gifts to us, and it is our duty and privilege to guide them in the word.  Sunday School and Vacation Bible school are lots of fun for kids these days, and they are wonderful ways to get them enthused.   And the songs are special, too.  I  enjoyed singing them on VBS Sunday.

        Remember how much Jesus loved the youngsters.  He said, "Let the little ones come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of Heaven." 

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for our childhoods, and the memories they bring.  Help us to cherish the children in our lives, and to keep them in the church--learning and serving.  Thank you for the wonderful teachers who teach in our Sunday School.  Amen.

Gerry Draney

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Parting Words


1 Corinthians 16: 13-14. Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 


These words at the end of the 1 Corinthians are inspiring and applicable. They begin the summary of the book, serving as a transition. They summarize the fifteen chapters that precede them, the take away. They are his parting words, meant to reiterate what he has just written to this church he loves.

            First - Be on guard. A reference to his true life experience in Corinth. The imagery here is of a military guard keeping watch. Some translations say, "Keep alert", but it's important here to keep the image of a guard. Paul is urging the believers to be aware of what is happening around them, but even more, to be "on guard." While there are multiple meanings here, including to be aware of eschatological hope, that Jesus is returning, and could be returning any moment. This has to do with the situation in Corinth with politics and power, and Paul has experienced that first hand. In Acts 18:12-17, Paul was hauled before the Roman proconsul, or governor for the area, Gallio. He was charged and accused by the Jews for "encouraging people to worship God in ways contrary to the law." But Gallio dismissed the matter without even giving the matter a hearing, saying, "Settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things."

            Be on aware of what's happening in the world around you, waiting for Jesus' return, and knowing that this world will not offer you protection.

            Second - stand firm in the faith. Paul here brings up the themes of chapters 10 and 15, and what it is we believe in. Chapter 15, in particular gives us, again, amazing imagery of being changed from glory into glory, that moment when Jesus does return, and will "judge the living and the dead." Paul here reminds the believers that their only defense on Judgment day is the salvation of God in Jesus Christ. "Remember what you believe!" he tells them. Stand firm in the faith.

            Paul then takes a little break to fall into the language of Psalm 31:24, a sort of benediction that has been used throughout centuries, "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord."

            Finally, Paul sums up what we know and love and remember about this letter, the turning point of Chapter 13, "Let all that you do be done in love." These words pick up the theme once again of what unites the Christian community - love. And the challenge of the community, the challenge of being a Christian in this world, the challenge of sending love into a world that so desperately needs it, it that it must translate into our ethics. God's love is so great that it needs to be shared, whether the recipient wants it or not. We are called to love others as God has loved us. And it's hard...but without love, we are a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal. "Let all that you do be done in love."

            Parting words. "Be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." Wisdom that will get you through the unknown joys of a final year of high school, the first day of a new school, taking your child to college for the first time, the first day of marriage, the first day of being a parent, starting a new job, moving across the country, retiring, or buying a new house. Wisdom that will get you through the challenges of deciding what to do after high school, making new friends, being an empty nester, the first disagreement in a marriage, the terrible twos and troublesome threes, the annoying co-worker, learning a new city, filling your days, and selling the home you love. These are parting words that will always be relevant to our lives, no matter who we are, where we are, what's happening in our lives.

            These are parting words.


Rev. Melodie Jones-Pointon

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Let's rock the DREAAM House!


"Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." -Eph. 5:19

"Let's rock the DREAAM House." Those are the words coming from 10 excited five-year-old boys participating in the DREAAM Summer Pre -K Academy. The DREAAM House is a community-school partnership significantly funded by First Presbyterian Church of Champaign and Southeastern Illinois Presbytery.

"It was created to reach, teach and invest in African-American boys at risk," said Tracy D. Dace, a member of First Presbyterian and developer of the pre-K program. "Guided by the principles of social justice and educational best practices, the DREAAM Team designed a summer program to intervene and increase kindergarten readiness in the areas of math, reading, social/emotional learning and school expectations." The acronym DREAAM stands for Driven to Reach Excellence and Academic Achievement for Males.

The summer program runs for four weeks at an elementary school in Champaign, a small urban community wrestling with a number of issues, including juvenile delinquency, poor school outcomes and gun violence. But it is also the site of a major public research university, a number of social service providers and an active faith-based community.

Dace developed a vision for reaching boys at an early age in an effort to address the growing problem of academic underachievement. However, he adds that the program involves much more than just learning the basics. In addition to getting an early start on education, the boys also take field trips and learn about expected social and emotional behavior. The program was officially launched last summer.

"Expectations are high for kindergartners, and many are simply not ready," said Dace. "The range of readiness gaps at school entry differs across schools and communities. African American boys with lower levels of learning and social skills than many of their peers are particularly at risk. The DREAAM House Summer Pre-K Academy focuses on increasing success in kindergarten and addressing the early developmental needs of boys at risk."

While it's still too early to determine the long-term impact of the program, initial reports from local schools have been positive. Dace says teachers report significant progress among some of the DREAAM House participants.

"When I see the boys in the community or at school, they are excited about DREAAM and ask when they can go back again or what we are doing next time at the DREAAM House," he adds. "Parents are very supportive, and our school superintendent has taken a keen interest in the program."

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has made education and poverty alleviation a priority. Working with partners in the U.S. and worldwide, the denomination has set a goal of providing high-quality education for one million children by the year 2020. The initiative emphasizes strengthening communities' capacity to provide high-quality education, improving teacher training and resources, and creating a safe environment in which children can learn.

-Rick Jones, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today's focus: Southeastern Illinois Presbytery

Prayer:  Loving God, give us eyes to see people who are "invisible" to us but who are known and deeply loved by you. Change our hearts so that we might see and serve all people as your beloved children. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

From the Mission Yearbook of Prayer for 8-10-2016