Thursday, November 30, 2017

Walk with Thee


Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.” Psalm 86:11a 


The traditional gospel song, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” is one of my favorite hymns.  When I researched its origin, I was surprised to learn that the author of the words is unknown and the music is anonymous.  Circumstantial evidence suggests it dates back to southern African-American churches of the 19th century.  It became better known nationally in the 1930s when African-American churches held huge musical conventions. 

 

Recordings of  “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” began in the early 1940s.  Well-known artists who recorded it include Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Elvis, Johnny Cash and Randy Travis.
 

In 1997 when I was selected as Nebraska Mother of the Year, I planned an ecumenical worship service.  Music shared included our two daughters and spouses singing as a quartet, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”  They began singing the first verse, in a slow tempo:
 

“I am weak, but Thou art strong;

Jesus, keep me from all wrong;

I’ll be satisfied as long

As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.”
 

As the refrain began, the tempo accelerated:
 

“Just a closer walk with Thee,

Grant it, Jesus is my plea,

Daily walking close to Thee,

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.”

 
An African-American chorus, scheduled later as part of the service, joined in. What a memorable moment! The blending of joyous voices reminded us that we can all walk together close to Thee.

 
Prayer: O Lord, teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Amen.
 
Lois Poppe


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thankfulness


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessolonians 5:16-18 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 

In this holiday season, we ought to adopt the attitude of thankfulness not just on one day, but every day. In his book “Life’s Greatest Lessons,” Hal Urban has an exercise that I am going to do and I hope you will too. Take a sheet of paper and title it “I am thankful for…”. Draw two vertical lines so there are three columns. The column headings are “Material Things,” “People”, and “Other”.  “Other” can be freedom, Jesus, faith, health, etc.  Fill in all of the lines on the paper as you think about this. Keep the list handy (or make a few copies) and read over it four times a day. In his over 30 years of teaching, Mr. Urban says this is one of the best assignments he has ever given. Join me in this exercise and let’s see what happens!

Prayer: Dear Father, we should be overflowing with thankfulness for all you have given us but sadly we often complain or take for granted what we already have. We ask that our thankful hearts be a light for others to see the contentment and hope we have in you. Amen.

Cathy Schapmann

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Helping Little Ebert of Bolivia


Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them.  To help the poor is to honor God. Proverbs 14:31

Two years ago at the Northminster  Presbyterian Church in Tucson I heard about helping children in need in poor countries.  I heard about Compassion International which is a Christ Centered, Child Focused, Church Based and Committed to Integrity organization founded by a Rev. Swanson.  It is headquartered in Colorado Springs.  It started with 34 orphans in South Korea and today it has grown to serve more than 2 million children in 26 countries.

Compassion is linked to local churches in areas where the need is great.  Compassion reaches out for sponsorships from people who are passionate about helping children learn about Jesus, learning to read and write, personal hygiene and healthy nutrition.

For a small fee each month you can sponsor a child to help him overcome poverty.  Phil and I have sponsored Ebert in Bolivia for two years now.  He is now seven years old and because he has a sponsor he can go to his church school, which also reaches out to his parents.

We exchange letters-some written by his bigger brother or his Mother but Ebert says thank you because soon he will be able to write with the help of his wonderful Christian teachers.  The teachers translate my letters to the language they understand.  We encourage Ebert to continue in school and learn about Jesus.  When we send Ebert a birthday or Christmas gift the money goes to the school who will help the mother buy something Ebert wants or needs.  Phil and I feel we are helping Ebert grow in Christian love.

Prayer: Thank you God for finding Ebert for us to love and help.  Keep him in yours arms so he can grow and become a Christian leader in community, teaching others of your love.  Amen

Eleanor Etzelmiller

Monday, November 27, 2017

You Won!

"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." Jeremiah 29:11
Everywhere you look there is a flashing sign POWERBALL Winnings 385 Million, Mega Millions Winnings 259 Million, Win $1000 a day by entering TODAY!  What would you do if you won BIG! You can’t know unless you enter; at least that is what the advertisements say.

The financial crisis on so many families is devastating these days, so many families struggle to put a good decent meal on the table, provide footwear for each child, medical care, and transportation to school or work. It’s a day or in some cases minute by minute survival mode.  

We each have our own financial issues and some of us have taken the jar down and counted the change to see if we can pay a bill to keep the lights on, or to just get by for that day. The financial advisors say to reduce your budget give up magazines, give up that daily drive thru coffee, give up that newspaper every Sunday, reduce the number of channels on your tv network, cut back on your travel, or skip a shopping trip to the mall. Many of us may have already done that and those items would be luxury if we could afford just one. 

We have won, through the power of prayer, through each struggle or decision of what to do next, the comfort of prayer and the faith in God that He will guide us in His plan. It may not be easy but He is with us each step of the way.

I felt my prayers were answered when I sat down with a good friend and we started discussing expenses and how it continues to go up. She said she was worried she wouldn’t get to retire at all. I told her my home repairs, taxes, insurance were concerning me too for my future. It started as a thought when she said what if we shared expenses. It didn’t seem a serious conversation or option at the time; but as days passed and we visited it became a reality. It took months of frustrating, time consuming, exhausting physical and spiritual preparation. There was the garage sale, house transfer, many trips to the city mission as both of us were downsizing and combining our life collections. But the final result has been a solution that both of us have grown to love. We each have our own private space, but find it nice to have someone to talk out the daily woes, and share the household and lawn chores. The extra advantage is our pets get along and it enriched their lives too. Again God had a plan...

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven please help us to hear your message, to envision your plan and open our hearts and minds to new adventures. Guide us to helping others less fortunate than us, even when it seems we have nothing left to give. 
Lori Hood

Friday, November 24, 2017

Do the Right Thing


“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12: 32-34

I love this verse. I especially love it as we get closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas. It reminds me to expand the spirit of giving. To worry less about what I have. To invest in things that will always be valuable to me. To take actions consistent with my desires. You could insert something cliché here – family, friends, faith… but it goes beyond that. It’s not about the right gift, or giving away all our things, but instead, reflecting the things we want in our kingdom. 

Doing the right thing for the right reason resonates strongly within me. When I am faced with an especially difficult decision I often need to take a step back. Is what I am doing the right thing, or the easy thing?  Am I lulling myself into the idea that the two are somehow tied together? That I will have a greater personal gain from the easy thing?

I feel like there are times we all pick the path of least resistance – even when we know better. It might be something simple – sending a text or e-mail instead of making a phone call or being face-to-face because the conversation is difficult or painful. It might be something bigger, eliminating a service because it doesn’t make money or it is too hard to staff, even if the people receiving the service need it desperately. Beyond these simple examples may be those that are harder still, forcing someone to do something they really don’t want to do, because the job has to be done. None of those are the right thing and none of them make us feel good. But all of them happen, and you can probably think of personal examples where you have chosen between right, and easy. It’s embarrassing sometimes. Disappointing others. Certainly not something that we would brag about. 

As humans there are decisions that sometimes have to be made in a moment, and we have to live with the consequences. We don’t always get a moment to step back and wonder, we just have to hope that we have done the right thing and that we are reflecting what is best for our kingdom.

Prayer: Gracious God, help me to more easily see between right and easy. Help me to remember those things I treasure and the lessons I have learned to point me in the direction of right. Give me strength in those moments where right is not easy and I fear I don’t have the stamina to press on. Be with me now and always.  Amen.   

Christi Moock

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Being of Service to Others


Serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 1 Peter 4: 10

As I listened to the Trustees talk about Stewardship Sunday and thought about my monetary donation to Eastridge Church for 2018, I also thought about the other ways I can support the church.  Many of us volunteer to participate in one of the many missions of the church, such as serving on the Session, Trustees or Deacons, helping with funerals, participating in Bible studies, volunteering at the Gathering Place, and the list goes on. 

I was reminded of something I read by the anthropologist, Margaret Mead, who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It made me know that all of us have gifts and talents that we can share to serve others in our church and community, and in doing so, have a great impact on the world, be it small or large. We all can be of service.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to take my place as a channel for service to others around me.  Let me give joyfully of my time and talents to insure that your love flows to all individuals I meet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Carolyn Brandle

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Storing Treasures

 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21
 



Jesus teaches about the orientation we must endeavor to achieve, directing our hearts toward the things of heaven, rather than worldly possessions and desires.  He speaks of moths, rust and thieves as threats to the material goods we strive to attain.  Of course, Jesus is also addressing more broadly the many agents ready and waiting to erode the worldly wealth we are so inclined to try and possess. 
 

I am inclined to be a saver, or as we sometimes joke, an “archivist,” following in the footsteps of my parents and grandparents.  My more minimalist adult children often respond with a polite “no thank you” when I offer “treasures” that I see as important elements of the history of our family.  Their arguably more scriptural perspective prompts me to contemplate how I might direct my heart more faithfully in sharing the worldly possessions—from financial assets to antique china—with which I have been endowed.  This is especially true during the season of stewardship. 
 

The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it another way:  “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
 

Prayer: Heavenly Creator, thank you for the many ways you care for us as we navigate this physical world.  We ask for your direction in turning our hearts toward heaven.  Guide us in using and sharing the worldly possessions for which we are responsible in ways that bring glory to you and your light to those we encounter.  Amen
 

Barry and Alinda Stelk

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sorrow in America


"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelations 21:4

How many times in the last few months have you asked yourself "will this violence and pain for America ever stop?" When is the next tragedy and will it be in my hometown or to someone I love? Unfortunately emotional and spiritual pain is very prevalent in our society. During these times we see no hope in sight for our country and ourselves. But we are promised that our suffering will end, that all tears will be wiped away and there will be no more death. 

During these times of tragedy we can only rely on God and his word for strength. One thing that has always helped me is that I have Bible verses memorized and I will chant them over and over in my head when I am in desperate need of inner strength. His message is embedded within my heart when I have no other words. God is our hope, continue to pray! 

Have a courageous day!


Becky Rankin

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tongue


But no one can tame the tongue-a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8

Someone recently said the following in a conversation. The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.

Harsh words said by one human to another stirs up anger and hurt. It can cause a real rift.  The dictionary says that a rift is a breach in friendly relations between people or in the unity of a group.

Think back and remember a time when someone did not control their tongue when talking to you or you observed this happening.  Remember your hurt or watched someone being hurt.  Can you remember a time when you did not control your tongue in a situation and you hurt someone?  Think about controlling your tongue and the words that break a heart.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Help me remember not to use harsh words aimed at others- tame my tongue and not hurt others.  Amen

Susan Taylor

 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trust in Times of Turmoil


Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.  My eyes fail, looking for my God.  Psalm 69: 1-3
 

I have been thinking recently about challenges in life.  The times when we feel we are up to our neck – in the mire, or the deep water, or the floods.   As I read this verse I couldn’t help but think of a very dear friend who, after 20 years of sobriety, relapsed and has not been able to get control over her addiction for more than a year.  In a recent call, it was as though I could hear the flood of addiction taking over her life…. The mire sucking her down.  One moment she was begging for help, and in the next moment unwilling to take any help that was offered. 
 

How often do we get caught in the mire and don’t use our voice to call for help or our eyes to search for God?  Moments where we choose to remain miserable, times at work when we believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, times as a parent that we miss the joy of raising a child because we are struggling through the unrelenting responsibility of being a parent… there are so many times when we can feel overwhelmed and alone in this earthly life. 
 

These times in the mire are not constant, we all have good days, and bad days.  Sometimes the mire sucks at our ankles and we know we are free to escape but we choose not to.  Sometimes we even know people who love the mire and can’t get enough of the drama, or the problems. 
 

Knowing that I can lean on God is a tremendous relief, knowing that he has the strength to pull me from the mire gives me comfort. 
 

Prayer: Gracious God, I know you are always close by.  I know that you don’t want your children to suffer, please continue to be with those who have lost their voice or whose eyes have turned away.  Help them from the flood, do not let the undertow pull them down. 
 

Christi Moock

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me!


A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:21

 
November is my birthday month and so many happy memories fill my mind of birthdays past. My family is big on celebrating birthdays. My parents always made our special day a day of excitement, recognition and a joy knowing we had reached another year. It has always been a celebration that each of us is special in God's eyes. In my younger years it would mean a homemade cake of your favorite made by Mom. There was always a present but it seemed the best part was family together.  
 

I find it sad that so many don't celebrate their birthday or meet it with regret that they are another year older. It isn't about the gifts, the cards, or the cake; it is the time we get. Time to spend with family and friends. More time to extend the good news of Jesus Christ and continue to share the passing of peace.  
 

Yes I am getting older but because of this great gift I meet each birthday with the same spirit of joy, happiness, excitement of what my next year holds for my future.  It is a time to count my blessings. 

 
Prayer: Dear Father: Thank you for another year. Thank you for giving me more time to enjoy my family and friends and their life milestones.  Thank you for giving me more time to do your work here on earth.  Continue to guide me in my life's journey in the way of your plan and not mine.  Help others to see the glory in your gift of life and in the lives of others around us.  In Jesus name we pray Amen

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
 

Lori Hood

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Friendship


A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17 

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. (Anais Nin)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17  

One of the benefits of investing in long-term relationships is the ability to know someone more deeply and fully.  Humans can complement one another in so many wonderful ways, and experiencing these interactions is also a gateway to experiencing more closeness with God.  I love how the years of life I have been granted have blessed me with the crossed paths of so many different strangers who have become friends for eternity.  It is a wonderful richness to treasure.

I began to realize as a young adult that the face of God was present in the faces of so many in my earthly community.  The generous spirit shines very brightly when someone tries to reach into your life and share his or her strengths.  it feels so good to have something to offer to someone else, too, and to have so many gifts to share. 

A young woman I know recently told me how she looks to me for guidance on how to face life.  She said she had a difficult childhood, but survived and thrived by choosing to discard bad influences and cling to the examples of those who inspired her.  Every time she sees me she gives me a hug and thanks me for being there.  She helps me to be my best self.

My decades-old friendships have given me the chance to have many sisters and brothers, and people who could be nieces and nephews - and in my heart, a lot of aunties and uncles.  Families are wonderful, but families and friends can blend into a lovely mess.  I am delighted to see the lines blur between blood relations and heart relations. 

Recently, I have had the gift of time with a friend I met in junior high.  She was one of the people who eased me out of my academic rigor into a person who could relax and have fun with others, and she really pulled me out of a narrowness that was not healthy.  She encouraged my spirit of adventure and helped me to relax in the face of stressful situations.  She and I have had the chance to explore and laugh and talk about great ideas and just take time to look at the world at our feet.  She has just come out of a challenging set of experiences, and for the time being I am able to give her a little of what she needs to remember about herself that restores her to living fully. We open a new gift every time we see one another. 

Prayer: Lord of all friendships and all colors of love, thank you for the people whose hands you have placed in ours, who are your hands in our lives.  Let us always treasure them as you treasure us, and to be your gentle hands reminding them of the power of love that is you.  Amen
Mollie Manner

Monday, November 13, 2017

Helping Others

"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation 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; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to 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? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
 
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25: 34-40




The Eastridge Pantry has a new manager, Heather Douglas, who is doing well in a difficult, important job. As Matthew tells us here, God wants us to use our gifts to help others who are in need. There are people in Lincoln today that need our help. Heather is working hard, giving a lot of her time to help feed the hungry in Lincoln, but she needs help from all of us to make this happen. In particular, donations of food, household supplies, and toiletries would be much appreciated. So please send any loaves, fishes, and/or baskets of fragments you can spare.

Prayer: (From Peter Shaw, Editor Tear Times and Prayer Diary): Lord you are our Father. […] Help us, as part of your church, to be obedient to your call to look after people in need in your name. Give us your daily bread, and help us to share abundantly the plenty that we have been blessed with. Amen.
 
Gerry Draney

Friday, November 10, 2017

Praises to God


Sing to the Lord a new song, for HE has done marvelous things. Psalm 98:1

 
Consider the ways we can tell our Lord of the Praise we have for him. We can support our Church in many and various ways, as our Church gives us many opportunities to use our God-given talents. First and foremost, we can pray for our Church, our Pastors, our Deacons and Elders, our children and youth teachers, our session and session staffs, our Church staff, who give tirelessly of their time, our Stephen Ministers, and many more, who give daily of their time and talents.

We can also share our many gifts, one being our monetary blessings to support and further the needs of our church and community. By doing these things we can honor and praise our Lord, and thank Him for the many daily blessings.

How will you choose to Praise our Lord, this day?


PRAYER: Gracious Lord, thanks for the talents and gifts you have blessed us with, and help us to use these talents to Honor and Praise you as you continue to guide our lives and the lives of our church.

 
Shirley Flynn-Bell

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Acceptance

“So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” Romans 14:10-13

A lot of people I know have struggled with finding an accepting, non-judgmental church home. Some of those people have even lost faith in what they see as being “Christianity” due to this. This saddens me, not just for them, but for us as Christians whose job it is to live in the light of the Lord and to bring lost sheep to Him, not to push them away. I have found myself on more than one occasion trying to explain that not all churches are judgmental, and not all are condemning to people who might have different points of view or live their lives in a different way than the majority of their congregation does. Everyone deserves a chance to live in the wonderful perfect light that Christ shines on his children. When a Christian chooses to love God, and accept Christ as their personal savior and leader in all things, that person also accepts the responsibility, the privilege of loving all of God’s children.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, guide me today in showing others the light of God within me. Help me to accept others who are different from me. Help me not to judge Your children, because that’s Your job, not mine. Show me how to bring lost sheep to You, and help them see the beauty of Your unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Brandi Phillips

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My Path


In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path. Proverbs 3:6 He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3

I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23 Direct my footsteps according to your word. Psalm 119:133

 
My friend said after her mentor, Ann, died, “You can be my Ann now.”
 
My sister said to me,” I was asked in a class, ‘Who was the person who had always been there for me during my entire life?’  I thought about saying my mother; but decided you were the person I counted on the most. Mom was always working so hard on the farm and caring for four children. You, the older sister, was who I counted on being there when I needed someone as a child and this continued after I grew up.” I was honored by this statement yet concerned.
 

My friend, who has been away from Lincoln for some time, said to me after her dad’s funeral, “You are my foundation.”
 
I am afraid; how can I live up to their expectations Lord? The above scriptures speak to me. I can turn to him and he will direct my path. It may not be an audible voice but he will speak to me as he knows me as said in John 10:27, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. Then I can go forward and say, “I being in the way, the LORD led me.”
 
Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, help me listen to you; help me follow your way as there are those who see me. Amen.

 
Sandra Hilsabeck

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Prayer Shawl Ministry



For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139: 13-17    

In 1998, Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo, graduates of the 1997 Women’s Leadership Institute at The Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, began a ministry as a result of their experience in this program. Their desire to extend compassion to others, and their love of knitting and crocheting, led them to combine the two into a prayerful ministry called the Shawl Ministry. The intent of this powerful outreach and spiritual practice was to reach out to those in need of comfort and solace along with those celebrating joy in their lives. The shawl maker begins each new mantle with prayers and blessings for the known or unknown recipient and these intentions are continued as the shawl takes form, is completed, and then is given away. (Source:  The Prayer Shawl Ministry Homepage; http://www.shawlministry.com/)

 
Many years ago, a prayer shawl ministry was born at Eastridge Church with the hopes of continuing this special spiritual practice with our church family and beyond. This mission of compassion and love continues today with EPC members knitting, crocheting and quilting prayer shawls. Throughout the years, many shawls have been prayerfully completed and given away with the hope each recipient will feel the love and comfort of God, along with the prayers and blessings of a member of our church family, when they see their shawl or wrap it around their shoulders. 
 

Just as a butterfly develops slowly within its cocoon and emerges with its distinct characteristics or a baby develops slowly within the womb of her/his mother and is born a unique human being, so a shawl slowly develops too. With each tug of the yarn from the skein and the continual movement of the needle and fingers or the careful selection, cutting, placement and sewing of fabric occurring over time, each shawl takes on its own individual design with the blending of colors and stitches chosen carefully and loving by the maker. As I work on each shawl, I am constantly reminded of how God has chosen to create each of us with unique gifts and talents that allow us to be a reflection of God’s love and a blessing to others.

 
Prayer:  Dear Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, we thank you for the gift of our hands and the ways in which they can be a blessing to others. We ask you to bless those who have felt your calling to knit, crochet and sew prayer shawls along with those who have received them. May these mantles be a perpetual reminder of the unfailing love and care you, and our church family, have for them. Amen


(For more information about The Shawl Ministry and its mission, please visit their website at www.shawlministry.com . Those wishing to know more about our EPC prayer shawl ministry, please contact the church office.)


Patty Niemann

 

Monday, November 6, 2017

“Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together can’t handle”


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. Jeremiah 29:11

 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
 

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 

 
“Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together can’t handle”
 

This is the inscription on a small plaque I have in my kitchen window (shown below!), and it has been in the kitchen window in every home I’ve lived in since leaving college. It’s kind of old and the style is outdated, the saying a bit folksy-sounding, but seeing it every day (even if not necessarily acknowledged) has made a difference in my life.
 

My children have seen it as well. What a great thing for them to see over and over, even before they really grasped its meaning! I know this to be true, because my daughter wrote it in a camp journal when she was in elementary school. This truly shows the power of reinforcement. Sometimes I think we dismiss things because no one seems to be paying attention; but, we may be “paying attention” and not even realize it.
 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your promise of being with us, each and every day, in any situation we may find ourselves facing. Thank you for being that presence we can rely on and turn to when life becomes difficult or scary. Amen.

 
Donna Gustafson
 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Look Upward and Inward for Comfort


But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

These verses from Paul's teachings to the Thessalonians speak loudly to me today as I am harshly confronted with the death of a loved one.  In the last eight years, my brother Dan, one of six brothers, has suffered greatly with depression and emotional trauma and has self-medicated with alcohol.  Chronic liver disease has been the result.

Dan passed away this past week, October 15th, after prolonged mental, emotional, and physical suffering.  It was very difficult for his two children, siblings, mother, and adoring students to watch.  (Dan had been an outstanding high school art teacher for over 30 years, and had made a major difference in many young lives.).  Our hopes for recovery, healing, and life were continually annihilated.  We all suffered much pain and anguish, most especially his two adult children.

I have lost someone who was a tremendously large part of my life, who I loved and admired so, as did my children and grandchildren.  With his death, I am trying hard to deal with my intense pain by looking inward to my Faith, and upward to Heaven, for comfort and peace.  This verse gives me great comfort.  ".....even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."  Dan had a strong Faith and has to be now in Heaven, with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, where he is experiencing utter peace and joy, unlike a thing I can know or even imagine.  Rest in peace, my special, loving brother!

Prayer:  Father God, all merciful Father, please surround those of us tortured by the Loss of my brother Dan, with peace and serenity, knowing that you have lifted Dan upward to rest eternally with you.  I pray for healing for each of us, his children, mother, siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, and all those who are suffering pain and loss.  Thank you for your endless mercy!
Connie Barry

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

I Will Fear No Evil

I was raised in a two story house built around 1900. The walls were thin and there was no central heat or air conditioning. My bedroom was above the kitchen and there was an old metal vent that opened in the floor. I remember I could hear and see through the vent into the kitchen right above the stove.  My father worked nights at the time and Mom worked days. The house was on an acreage so at the time there were no other homes around us. I always felt safe until one night I awoke and I heard what sounded like one man and another that I couldn't understand but seemed to be making strange sounds that put a chill through me. I remember trying to bury my head in the blankets but it didn't seem to muffle the sounds. I kept hearing one say he was going upstairs, let him go. I remember my Mom saying no just keep calm, and lay still. Not fully understanding what was going on and the conversations made no sense but the fear as a child put images of far worse in my head.  

 

Now as an adult I feel the same anxiety, fear, and sadness whenever I hear the stories on the news of senseless violence, fires burning homes and land, hurricanes destroying thousands of homes, and all the people suffering and dying each day.  

 

I would learn later that there were two men involved in vehicle accident and had miraculously walked through the corn fields and ended up on our porch where my mother bandaged and gave aid until the ambulance arrived. One had a broken jaw which was wired for months to heal. These two men came back many months later to thank my Mom and to acknowledge the miracle of someone guiding them miles from their accident by the one bright light of our farm pole light through the fields to safety.

 

So each day as I hear the sad and fearful news, I weep and I pray for Jesus Christ to be like the blanket and wrap His arms around us and like the farm light guide us to safety.  Help us to go out into the world and fear no evil and with each one kind act we slowly change the world into the world of peace.


The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23
 
Lori Hood