Thursday, December 28, 2017

Words for Advent

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”   Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,   “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”   When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”   So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2:10-20
This year, I have a nativity set in my church office that I received as a gift, which fits perfectly in the window near my phone. As I’m answering calls for the Food Pantry, or any phone call, I can see each character in the scene and consider his/her role. This seems to fit well with our word theme this Advent.  The Advent study that my group did this season (Pauses for Advent by Trevor Hudson) explores a word a day as well.

Here’s what I mean:

Word for the day: Mary. In our Wednesday morning Advent study, the day that focuses on Mary looks at her willingness to bear God’s son. “Let it be with me according to your Word” (Luke 1:38). The study encourages us to find a quiet moment in our day and present ourselves to God and willingly offer our will as Mary did.

Word for the day: Angel. The study suggests we look for angels in our daily lives, remembering that as we offer hospitality, we may be “entertaining angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2).

Word for the day: Joseph. The study points out that even though we hear no spoken words from Joseph’s mouth in gospel passage, his actions speak loudly. He follows God’s guidance and steps out in faith.

Word for the day: The Magi. The Magi “encourage us to be serious about our seeking”. “When we strive to seek and to surrender, the miracle of Christmas can happen every day.”

Word for the day: The Shepherds. We’re encouraged to take a closer look at those who are considered “outsiders”. Maybe YOU feel like an outsider. We all have those who may be considered outsiders in our midst. Ask God to help you notice them, and reach out to them.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be more aware this Advent season, and always. Help me remember that I am representing You to the world, and help me be obedient to act accordingly. Thank you for sending Your son, Jesus. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Of the Father's Love Begotten

For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son. John 3:16

One of my favorite hymns is “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”. The words were originally a poem written in Latin by Aurelius Pruditius in the 5th Century and later was translated to English and set to music using a hauntingly beautiful plainsong from the 13th Century. Singing this hymn in my hometown church each Christmas as I was growing up gave me a sense of awe and wonder. The free flow of the melody, with its stepwise progression up and down, gives the feeling of the Holy Spirit moving gently among God’s people and the text reminds us of God’s presence in all times and in all places, from the beginning of the world to eternal victory.

        Of the Father's love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
        He is Alpha and Omega, He the Source, the Ending He.
        Of the things that are, that have been and that future years shall see,
        Evermore and evermore.

        Oh, that birth forever blessed, when the Virgin, full of grace,
        By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race,
        And the Babe, the world's Redeemer, first revealed His sacred face,
        Evermore and evermore.

        O ye heights of heaven, adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
        Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King.
        Let no tongue on earth be silent, every voice in concert ring,
        Evermore and evermore.

       Christ, to Thee, with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
       Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unending praises be,
       Honor, glory, and dominion, and eternal victory,
       Evermore and evermore.

Prayer: Dear Lord:  We thank you for the gift of music and for the way You inspire words and musical notes in such a special way as to give us a sense of your presence ….. evermore and evermore. Amen

Patty Niemann (reprinted from 2009)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Humble Place

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

There was no room for Jesus at the inn that night--but that’s the way it was meant to be.  The place where Jesus comes to stay must be humble--a place that needs His presence to fill it up and make it special.  That stable was probably cold, empty, and dark--until Jesus arrived and made it a holy place--full of life, love and light.

A similar thing happens in our hearts.  When we’re full of pride (when our “inn is full”)--there’s no room for Jesus there.  But when we humble our hearts, admitting that we’re imperfect and ordinary--and hopeless without Him--then He can come in.  He’ll fill our hearts with life, love, and light.

Unfortunately, we can easily fall back into our prideful ways, so we must continually humble our hearts.  As we do, God enables us to unselfishly serve others. We should look to Jesus’ example of how to have a “servant heart”.  Then, just maybe, when others see our hearts full of life, love, and light, they’ll ask Jesus to come in and fill their hearts with the same.

Prayer: Light of the World, please forgive our prideful hearts.  Help us to remain humble so we may reach other hearts that need your presence.  And thank you for humbly coming to earth to save us and show us how to serve. Amen.

Sharon Irvin (reprinted from 2007)


Friday, December 22, 2017

Preparation and Invitation

Nay had the apple taken been...Nay had never our lady of been heaven queen. Blessed be the time that apple taken was, Therefore we maun singen: Deo gratias! ("Adam Lay Ybounden")

The angel Gabriel from Heaven came, his wings of drifted snow, his eyes of flame.... ("Gabriel's Message")

He said to his daughters, "Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat." Exodus 2:20

...Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40 

When I think of Advent, I am always filled with awe at the mystery before me.  Advent carols and texts that have their roots in past centuries portray an elegant primitive set of stories from our past.  They paint a picture of our failings, desires, hopes, and blessings.  We are always spiritual beings trying to navigate our humanity, and this experience binds us together even more than our beliefs.

Anticipation and preparation fill Advent with its own rituals and creativity.  The idea of waiting doesn't stir me as much as the idea of being watchful and aware.  The present moment has so much to give.  Waiting for God isn't like waiting for a bus or a doctor's appointment.  It is like preparing one's home and life and heart to welcome God in all the miraculous forms that God takes.

I heard on the radio yesterday a story from someone who runs an inner-city free meal program.  The team he works with decided to elevate the mission of the program to feed more than bellies, by extending hand-written invitations that they took to places where people congregate, like public parks. The premise of this gesture was to ensure that people who often feel uninvited would experience something different and know that their presence was requested and valued.  The meals are called "dinner parties" and have servers who come to the dining tables.  The effect this has had on people who have known nothing like this in their lives has been stunning and transformative.

The message from this story was that all of us have room in our hearts and lives to include someone who has been excluded from others' lives - often their own families.  How we decide to extend an invitation to someone is up to us, but it is certainly a gift that most of us are capable of giving.  The result helps all of us to continue to make room to welcome God. I read that the Rule of St. Benedict instructs the doorkeeper to greet any visitor or person looking for assistance with "Deo gratias".

Somewhere in my heart, Advent is preparing room for someone and something sacred.  I want the party and the welcome that I am planning to be the very best that I can give.

A prayer from "the 'O' antiphons":

O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples: Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid...O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of Justice: Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness...O Ruler of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart, O keystone of the mighty arch of humankind, Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. Deo gratias!


Mollie Manner

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Beginning of the Journey

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king  Soon afterward some men who studied the stars came from the east to Jerusalem, and asked, "Where is the baby born to be king of the Jews?  We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-4. 

 After they left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, "Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him.  So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt and stay there until I tell you to leave." Matthew 2:13.
The baby Jesus took many journeys and faced many perils, but God was looking out for him. God kept him safe, first by guiding Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem so Jesus could be born in a relatively safe place, then by warning the wise men in a dream to return home by another road and not go back to Herod.  Then God warned  Joseph that Herod would kill Jesus, so they had to flee to Egypt, and remain there until Herod died.

When he realized that the visitors from the East had tricked him, Herod was so angry that he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighborhood who were two years old or younger.  After Herod's death, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him it was time to make the journey back to Israel.  He went to the little town of Nazareth, where Jesus began his ministry and eventually his own journey to the cross.

PRAYER: Dear God, We thank you so much for the wisdom and courage of Mary and Joseph who found a way to save Jesus from Herod and all the wicked people who wanted to harm him. Guide us in our own journeys to become better Christians, and help us to follow Jesus' example as we go about our daily lives. Amen.
Gerry Draney, reprinted from 2013

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A New Way to Look at Self-Esteem

Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. Hebrews 11:26
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3

My granddaughter was helping me work on the Game of Wisdom, a game that I am creating. Scoring is an issue. The answers of the players are deciphered to be right or wrong before they get to make a move on the scoreboard. The issue of self-esteem came up in the discussion. She waived this off like it wasn’t a problem. Later, I was able to tell her she was right in her thinking.

The next day I read this in Days of Praise by Henry M. Morris. “The problem really is too much self-esteem. The biblical command is that we should in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.”

Think about this for a moment. Do we have people in our culture today with so much self-esteem they do not want to surrender to Christ? Paul wrote about dropping all his Roman credentials because he knew the reward Christ offered to him. Jesus came to serve the world on Christmas Eve.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to understand what Christ did for us when he came to earth as a baby. Help us to know saving us from our sins provides greater riches than any other. May we esteem others better than ourselves and not build up ourselves or others falsely. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:4-7

As Advent begins, we focus on hope; the first candle we light on the Advent wreath is often called the hope candle.  In this passage, Paul reminds the Romans—and us—that the Lord provides encouragement and the ability to endure trying times.  He intends for us to endure difficulties together through a common mission to glorify God.  We live in hope together, we wait together, we work together to overcome challenges, and we see each other through.  We may not always agree on every detail of how things should be done, but we accept one another, as Jesus accepts, us in our unified efforts to follow Him. 

Like many generations before us, we live in a time of division.  People with differing views are convinced of the inerrancy of those opinions and perspectives. Accusations are made in efforts to grasp control or influence.  We are tempted to become angry and frustrated, isolating ourselves from those around us or in the echo chambers of social media.  In such a climate, it can be easy to lose focus on what the writers of Scripture have tried to teach us, not to mention the qualities and differences Christ has accepted about us in calling us to be his disciples. 

As we journey through the Advent season and on toward Easter, let us remember that we are never alone.  We travel in hope, remembering the coming of Christ and holding each other close as we face with faith that which seems threatening and unknown.

Prayer:  Creator God, we thank you for the ways you teach us, encourage us, and provide for us.  We are grateful for the life of your son, Jesus, and for our community of faith.  Help us to live together in ways that glorify you with one heart and mouth.  We wait in hope for your arrival among us.  Amen.

Barry and Alinda Stelk

Monday, December 18, 2017

"Thank You"

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

At the end of October I attended a program on burnout.  It was incredibly eye-opening and one of the things that has stayed with me from the speaker is the phrase “thank you”.  For those who are receiving a thank you, we are often walking away from the person while they are offering us thanks.  For a healthcare professional, the nurse or doctor is leaving the room, onto the next thing and the patient cries out “thank you” and the gratitude is left behind.  In our personal relationships, we may have stopped saying thank you, because it is the small and routine things that we have agreed to or maybe we feel that since the work has been divided fairly and all parties have agreed that the token of thanks is unnecessary. 
These thank you statements should mean something.  It shouldn’t be something said or received in haste.  The speaker’s recommendation was to turn around and let a thank you wash over us.  To recognize the worth in what we are doing and to gracefully take that gratitude and allow it to fill our tank!  In addition, he encouraged us to work on a meaningful thank you.  Taking the time to say it and mean it and not to just “parrot” an automatic response.


As we prepare for the holidays and the promise of a new year I have been thinking about expressing and receiving gratitude.  I like the idea of really telling someone how grateful I am to them or their service.  While the organization I work for strongly encourages regular thank you notes, I think there is some hesitancy to say thank you too much should it begin to lose its sincerity.  Finding the balance between too much and not enough is delicate but is gratitude a place where this should be measured?           

Prayer: Gracious and merciful God, help us to be thankful for the people that fill and enrich our lives.  Help us to share a thank you with all those who need one and help us allow our gratitude to shine through in a world that so often seems filled with blame and hate.  When others are grateful to us, help us to gracefully accept this gratitude and recognize it’s meaning in our lives.  May we always share these kindnesses as a reflection of your work on earth.  Amen.   
Christi Moock   

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas/Holiday Children's Songs

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 

Music is a meaningful part of our Christmas celebration. Our Christmas memories often include music.  When I began teaching, I taught in the same rural school the first three years. The Christmas program highlighted our December activities.

The first year, Kathy, a Kindergarten student sang, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” Yes, Kathy was missing her two front teeth.  The next Christmas when Kathy was in first grade, she sang, “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas.”  Christmas songs bring back holiday school memories.

The church Christmas program/worship brings memories as well.  “Away in a Manger” sung by the youngest children was a given.  My research indicates that “Away in a Manger” was long claimed to be the work of German religious reformer Martin Luther. First published in the late nineteenth century, the carol is now thought to be wholly American in origin.    An Internet search questions if this carol is Biblical.  It concludes that baby Jesus was born in a manger but other details such as cattle or other animals being present may not be.

A simple Christmas song that I have taught young children reminds of why we celebrate Christmas.

             Christmas is Jesus’ birthday,

            Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

            That’s why we’re happy,

            That’s why we say,

            Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

Children also enjoy “Piggyback” songs – new songs sung to the tunes of childhood favorites.  One that I changed slightly, is sung to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

“Jesus Was Born”

            Jesus was born on Christmas Day,

            Christmas Day, Christmas Day.

            Jesus was born on Christmas Day,

            God’s gift of love to us.

What Christmas/holiday songs bring back memories for you?  We hope some songs bring meaning to the Advent and Christmas season.

Prayer: Dear God, it is easy for us to focus on the glitz and glitter of Christmas.  Help us to remember why we celebrate Christmas and follow your guidance as we prepare ourselves during Advent. Amen.


Lois Poppe


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today is the Day

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
A popular praise song by Lincoln Brewster is called "Today Is the Day."   Here are some of the lyrics:  "I’m casting my cares aside, I’m leaving my past behind, I’m setting my heart and mind on You Jesus.  I’m reaching my hand to Yours, Believing there’s so much more, Knowing that all You have in store for me is good.  Today is the day You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it; And I won’t worry about tomorrow, I’m trusting in what You say. Today is the day."

The song particularly struck home with me this time.  Especially the phrase, "I won't worry about tomorrow."  I have to admit that I worry a lot.  And usually it's about things that I have no control over anyway, so the worrying is a waste of time.  Like the weather.  Or it may be something I have at least some control over; like whether I have enough money to retire.  And sometimes it's something that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things; like what to wear to a special event.

I need to work on trusting in what God has to say and in setting my mind and heart on Jesus.  God has made the day and everything in it, and He watches over me at all times.  I struggle with wanting control over everything, when it would be better to remember that God is in control.  All he has in store for me is good.  As the scripture states, tomorrow will worry about itself. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, As we approach a new year, we realize every day could present problems, but it doesn't help to worry.  The Lord has made each day, and we need to rejoice and be glad in it.  God is in control and will handle our worries if we simply turn them over to him.  Please forgive us for thinking we can handle everything ourselves and for wasting time worrying about the future. Help us to cast our cares aside and reach our hand to yours.  Amen.

Robin Hadfield

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Greatest Gift

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:8-15

Just think, way back in the Old Testament, we are told in Isaiah that God was going to send his son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved.  What a wonderful gift God has sent us.  How can anyone doubt that God loves and cares for us.  We are his children, and he knows our thoughts and our fears. 

The shepherds were astounded and fearful.  But they immediately decided to go and see this thing which had come to pass.  And, the Bible tells us the shepherds returned and told everyone they met about the wondrous thing they had seen.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you so much for the wonderful gift of your son, Jesus Christ, who was born in the humblest of places, grew up to be crowned the King of the Jews, was crucified, but rose again.  Help us to re-dedicate ourselves this Christmas to do your will and show our dedication to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.  

Gerry Draney
Reprinted from December 24, 2012

Monday, December 11, 2017


For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Proverbs 3:27

After attending church with my grand niece and nephew, we were to join a few other friends to head to a Christmas Boutique to do a little shopping.  My grandnephew was to go to Sunday school and his Daddy would pick him up after Sunday school.  My grandniece who is to be 3 this December was going with us. As soon as we got in the car, she said what about brother?  We explained that he was attending Sunday school and as soon as it was done, Daddy would pick him up. She again asked what about brother?  We told her we would call and check with Daddy to make sure he got brother. We traveled a little farther; when the time came we called Daddy and made sure brother was picked up.   Giving her the update you could see the relief in her face, but the final relief and comfort came when we got her home and she could visually see brother was home already playing building a tent in the living room. 

What if we could have that same care of others? And pray that they too will be there at home with Jesus when we get there. The concern of watching over, guiding, checking to make sure that they too get home safely. The season of giving is an important time to give the best gift of all –love. We need to lend a hand to those who need someone to help hang a picture, address their Christmas cards, clean up leaves in their yard, go shopping for them, or simply spending time with them. The best lessons are taught by example. 

Prayer: Dear God, Please let us be the best examples of your love.  Help us to reach out to others not just during this time of year but throughout the year.  Help us to remember to look out and help our fellowman.  Guide us to find the true meaning of Christmas and to share the wonderful story with others; those far and near to us.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Lori Hood

Friday, December 8, 2017

For Unto Us a Child is Born

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 

On November 19 Voices of Omaha performed Handel’s Messiah at the Holland Center.  This was the 49th annual performance on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Six of us high school classmates traveled to Omaha to watch another classmate and his daughter sing in the choir.  The Halleluiah chorus was magnificent but so were the other songs as well.  My favorite thing to do at musical performances is to close my eyes so I can really listen to the words and sounds. You can just feel the music.  It is such a joy and moves me so that I take a sharp breath in! 

I particularly liked the song “For Unto Us a Child is Born” and its descriptions of Jesus from Isaiah.  Those descriptions of Jesus reminded me of the memorable and uplifting video during an Eastridge sermon many years ago where we watched the video of Dr. S. M. Lockridge “That’s My King”.  Dr. Lockridge was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego.  This portion is the last six minutes of a sermon in 1976.  It is well worth the six minutes to watch it:

During this Advent season may the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace be known to you in a personal way.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, come now and reign in me, Be Lord of my life this hour.
Come be my Counselor and my God, My source of wisdom and power.
Watch o'er me with your Father care, My heart and my mind, fill with peace.
I worship you, my Lord and King, My praise will never cease.  

AMEN.  (Lyrics from Handel’s Messiah “For Unto Us A Child is Born”)

Cathy Schapmann

Thursday, December 7, 2017


When they saw the star, they were filled with joy.  Matthew 2:10

When Advent- the waiting days before Christmas- is approaching, I think of the little word, joy.  It is the joy of Jesus’ birth in the stable and the joy of what Jesus brought to each of us. 

God sent Jesus to be born in the manger to save each of us.  We  can have joy every day when we remember that God gave us a loving Savior who takes our sins away.  We have to make room for that joy in our hearts.  Advent is a time to remember and renew in us, the joy of Jesus. 

Joy came to the barn when Jesus was born

Joy came when they saw the star

Joy came to Bethlehem

Joy came to the world

Joy is here for each of us
Prayer: Dear God, During this Advent time, help us find the joy that Jesus brought to each of us.  Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus so we can have joy. Amen

Susan Taylor, reprinted from our Advent Devotional of 2011

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Avid Reader

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

I have always said I am not an avid reader; but maybe that is not totally the whole story. I do love to read news articles, history books, autobiographies and of course Facebook. (If you can consider that reading). As a young child I was privileged to have many books in the house to read. It was important to my Mom that we had books available to read. She was an avid reader of all kinds of books, love novels, fiction, non-fictional, medical, magazines name it she read it. I remember as a child having the wonderful “picture” books with Cinderella, baby ducks and cuddly kittens to look at more than the words themselves. Probably the first book I remember reading by myself was “The Adventures of Mrs. Quack” and I read it several times. I think besides the enjoyment of the story it was the pride that I completed it by myself.  

As a teenager I worked for a wonderful friend and mentor in her home helping her clean house, cook and watch over her elderly mother. She was an avid reader of the Bible. I remember admiring her for your loyalty and dedication to her faith. She set aside two hours every morning at her desk. This was her planning time. She reviewed her schedule, wrote notes and communication, read her bible then prayed for most of the second hour on asking His guidance and protection on her daily activities, for those she felt needed a prayer, and any other concerns she may have had. She then proceeded on her daily activities. I know she prayed many other times during the day, but her morning routine inspired me to set aside some of my time during the day to read and spend time with my Lord. 

I am grateful to have had her and my parents to inspire me to read the bible and spend time with the Lord. One of my inspirations is to someday to have completely read the whole Bible. I would love to say I have done it, but I find myself many times returning to the same portions or stories that I have enjoyed or find inspirational to me for whatever life event I am facing. 

Dear Lord: Help me to be an avid reader of the Word. Inspire me to continue to find the comfort and guidance I need from the words of so long ago. Inspire me to achieve my goal and continue to read for the answers of yesterday and todays crisis. Help me inspire someone else to find the same excitement I find as I reread the stories of our past. Thank you for your guidance and protection and continue to help me find your path to becoming an avid reader. AMEN

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Lori Hood

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Commitment to Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” Matthew 22:37-38

I have experienced hardships with this commandment. Even though it seems simple and maybe even obvious, there have been times in my life when I have wondered far from the love of Christ. It seems at times too easy to forget our main purpose as children of God. When all of the bustle and noise in our daily lives overtakes us and pushes us further away from focusing on Christ, it is important to make an extra effort to take the time for quiet moments with God, for fellowship, and for worshiping Him. This is a relationship. We have to work at it like any other relationship in our lives. Taking time to make ourselves available to God is of the utmost importance, just as it is with our friends, family and spouses.

Prayer: Father God, Today help me to remember to make time and space for you in my life. Let my days be focused on serving you and bringing the message of Christ to others so they may know the feeling of Your pure and unconditional love. Help me to bring You joy through my acts as a Christian and through my commitment to our relationship. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Brandi Phillips

Monday, December 4, 2017

I can't believe she wore that!

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

Judgement is a very powerful sin; it allows us to believe that we are better than someone, and that our sin isn't as significant as the one we are judging. Have you ever looked at someone and immediately judged them? I have! I've thought to myself I can't believe she wore that dress, I would never forgive my husband if he did that, or the best is: my children would NEVER do that! How about when you hear gossip (true or not) about an individual and condemn them out loud. Then everyone joins in and it becomes a witch hunt! How dare we as Christians judge someone else when we have so much sin of our own to worry about. I am just as guilty as everyone else!

Forgiveness is the ultimate gift from God. Think of how many times he's forgiven you. Mine are too many to count! Judgement and Condemnation go directly against the teachings of Christ. Life is often unfair, we could probably all be offended daily if we allow ourselves. Instead of being resentful, let's rejoice and be thankful. God always rights every wrong in his own time. 

Have a blessed day!

Becky Rankin

Friday, December 1, 2017

Serenity and Acceptance

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die,

A time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill and a time to heal,

A time to tear down and a time to build, A time to weep and to laugh, A time to mourn and a time to laugh, A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, A time to embrace and a time to refrain, A time to search and a time to give up, A time to keep and a time to throw away, A time to tear and a time to mend, A time to be silent and a time to speak, A time to love and a time to hate, A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

These verses written hundreds of years ago by a God-inspired prophet, have always resonated with me, but even more so as I age; maybe because I think they reference the same type of Wisdom that the author speaks of in the later verses of Ecclesiastes. Under heaven refers to human life. And, our lives are not lives that remain the same, that are always serene or even content; even though we tend to think it should be that way. There is always going to be change, adjustments, sad times, jovial times, smoother times, and more difficult times, times to ride the tide and times to readjust and change direction, times where we feel clueless as to direction.

In my life, the best outcomes in any of these changing seasons happens when I can remain calm, reflective, accepting. I can only do that if I actively rely on God, actively be in a state of Faith and Trust in God. I need to be mindful that he is Always there for me, and that he is All loving, All good and merciful, and in charge. There is such strength in that belief and knowledge for me. I can handle all seasons, with God's guidance and love. I do not have to fear any of these Seasons, they are all part of Life.

Prayer: Dear Father God, thank you for your never failing Love, your plan for my life, and the guidance of Scripture. Help me to use you as my ultimate guide through all Seasons of my Life.

Connie Barry