Friday, November 16, 2018

Judging Others


Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make will be judged, and the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3

Recently I was asked in Bible Study what do you need to work on in your life? I said judging others and situations. In this scripture, Jesus teaches about judging others. Jesus says do not judge. If you judge others in your head, or talking to others, you will be judged. Jesus says why do you see the speck (a blemish or something you find objectionable) in your neighbor's eye but do not see the log in your own eye? Do we judge to build ourselves up? I am making an effort not to judge others and/or situations and to make an effort to build up others.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, be my constant reminder not to judge others and to build up others. Amen

Susan Taylor

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

It’s all in how you look at it


When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of the disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down. “There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, give thanks and distributed to those were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. John 6:5-11

This story reminds me of the phrase “is the glass half full or half empty? It’s all in the eyes of the beholder”. Now, the disciples didn’t understand yet about the miracles Jesus could perform, and they were being very realistic about their abilities to feed 5000 people. But where Jesus saw opportunity, they saw only defeat.

How many times do we, with our realistic attitudes miss the opportunities? This story also reminds me of a recent drive down “A” street with my son on our way to church. We’ve always had an agreement that for every dandelion he brings me, he gets a kiss. In the springtime he can arrive home from the bus stop with over 30 dandelions and receive 30 kisses. We both love it and I look forward to a fistful of dandelions and realize that it won’t be long before the idea of 30 kisses from his mother will make him cringe. But on this day as we drove by Roberts Park and I saw the entire park covered with yellow blooms my thought was, “Oh, what a mess that’s going to be for the neighbors in a couple weeks”. Mitchell’s alternative thought was “Wow, that must be worth about six million kisses.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, Each day, starting today, help me to see opportunities where I see problems and barriers. Open my eyes to the wonders of your world and the miracles you perform. Thank you for the many stories of the Bible and the way they keep teaching me new things! Amen

Lori Snyder-Sloan (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotional Book, published in 2008)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Thank you to Pastors and Staff


As they (Paul and Barnabas) traveled from town to town, they presented the simple guidelines the Jerusalem apostles and leaders had come up with. That turned out to be most helpful. Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size. Acts 16:4-5

Pastor Dr. Melodie Jones Pointon and Pastor Thomas came to Eastridge and have presented the guidelines to be worshipers of Christ, the Son of our Almighty Lord. Eastridge is becoming stronger in faith and larger in size.

Thank you for all the planning, the research and the presentations of “I can’t Believe This is In the Bible” and the sermon series of “The Apostles’ Creed.”  I love seeing so many great friends and worshipers after each service in the Welcome Center. Sometimes I don’t see how you do it all, but I think your work is very exciting and if I was young, I would think about being a pastor. The reason being that you meet people where they are, how they are, and provide the love of Jesus in a world that elsewhere doesn’t seem to acknowledge Christ’s existence. What better work can there be?

Sandra Hilsabeck

Monday, November 12, 2018

Mistakes

"There is no one on earth who does it right all the time and never makes a mistake."  Ecclesiastes 7:20


Yes, read that again! Sometimes when we make mistakes we think we are the only one to make a mistake; and we feel bad about ourselves, embarrassed, defeated, a failure. Yet, making mistakes is part of the reality of being human. Being human is to be fallible, that is, capable of making a mistake, capable of failure. The word fallible is often used to describe human error. No person is infallible.


So, such pressure this reality(to be human is to be fallible) should take off me!  I can't be perfect. Ever. Period. No one can, not anyone we admire or love; nor anyone we disrespect or do not even like. We are all human.


Only God does not ever make a mistake. He is all knowing, all good. He is all loving and all forgiving also, especially when we do make mistakes. What should I strive for then? To be God-like, loving and kind and tolerant, accepting of others, especially in today's world where there seems to be much hatred and a lack of acceptance of those who are different from us.  


I must also strive to be forgiving when others make mistakes, and hurt me or hurt someone that I love.  I need to be more tolerant and patient.  There is no right way to live other than God's way, that is, with a merciful, compassionate and loving heart. 


Prayer: Father God, thank you for creating me, even though I can never be perfect. Thank you for loving me, even though I can never be perfect.  Guide me to live by the grace you have given me so that I do not have unrealistic expectations for myself or for others.  Guide me to follow your word and Christ's example and strive not for perfection but to be loving, forgiving and compassionate.

Connie Barry

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Word from Colossians


We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel  that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,  and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:3-14

(Click on photo to view larger)


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Not for Our Own Glory

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3
If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else. Galatians 6:3-4
When we do something great, we enjoy the applause more than we’d like to admit. I think it’s ok to feel good when we’re praised, but we have to be careful how we respond. When someone gushes over us, it becomes all too easy to start thinking too highly of ourselves. We start to believe that the great things we do (or the great way we look) define us and make us great people, we may even view ourselves as better than others in comparison. As Christians, we know how important it is to be humble, but regretfully, we sometimes let those prideful thoughts take hold anyway. How easily we forget that everything we are and every good thing we do is a gift from God. So instead of expecting attention from others, we should be expressing our gratitude to God for what He has given us. He deserves the glory, not us!  The basis of our self-worth is our identity in Christ.  Only in Him are we valuable and capable of doing great things. Therefore, we shouldn’t need to look to others for approval or comparison, for we will always have a source of joy within us.  When we evaluate ourselves by worldly standards, talents, achievements, learning, rank, wealth, looks, etc., we tend to think too much of our worth in the eyes of others, and miss our true value in God’s eyes.  Instead, we should evaluate our worth based on our Christian character; that’s all that really matters, after all. Does our devotion to Christ show in all that we think, do and say?  If so, then we can take pride in that, being careful to remain humble.
Prayer: Dearest God, forgive us for the times we think too highly of ourselves. Help us as we learn to be your humble servants. And thank you so much for the many gifts you have given us. May we always strive to use them for your glory and not our own. Amen
Sharon Irvin (reprinted for the Eastridge Daily Devotion Book, published in 2008)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Obedience

“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”  Genesis 22:17-18

But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 2 John 1:6

Sometimes obedience doesn’t look the way we may think.

Years ago, I volunteered to deliver Meals on Wheels in the small town in which I was living. One house on the route stood out on this bitterly cold winter day. It was tiny, basically a shack. Paper-thin walls, windows frosted over with no insulation. The elderly woman living in it kept warm with a wood-burning stove or something similar, I can’t recall. I do recall thinking: this woman can’t be comfortable here. It’s too cold. This seems unsafe.

As the day went on, I thought more about her. As evening approached and it became even colder, I felt a nagging sense of unease, thinking about her circumstances.

I thought I needed to check on her. I'm not sure what I would’ve found, or what I would’ve done having found it, but I felt called to get in my car and go see her. Never mind that she had probably survived many cold, bitter winter days in her little home…today was the day that I noticed her!

It was so cold.

When I arrived, she was warm, cozy, and pleasantly surprised, maybe even amused, to see me. (Notice that I said SHE was warm and cozy…it still seemed too cold to me.) Feeling a bit foolish for having ventured out to check on someone who was doing just fine, I got in my car and went home, doubting my “message” from God that I was to go check on her. Even though my visit felt unnecessary, I was, however, glad to see that she seemed comfortable.

In our Pauses for Pentecost study (a word a day), one day’s word was: Listen. The author refers to a biblical scholar who had studied over 1,500 Biblical references and came to the conclusion that God’s biggest complaint is when we don’t listen. When I shared this story with my Bible study group, they assured me that I WAS obedient. The way they saw it, I was following God’s call…it didn’t matter that I didn’t swoop in to “save the day”, I was simply doing as God had asked. Maybe, they argued, I was called to simply let this elderly woman know that someone cared.

Prayer: Dear Lord, sometimes it’s hard to know what you’d like us to do. Sometimes it’s crystal clear. Help us to listen to your voice so that we can discern your will. Forgive us when we miss it. Help us to understand that sometimes it’s the small moments of obedience that add up to a life lived serving you. Amen.
Donna Gustafson

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Election Day


I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NASB)






Monday, November 5, 2018

The Non-Game


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Honor your father and your mother. Exodus 20:12

Nebraska is a unique place. Our football team, after being used to winning nine games a season and having five national championships, lost their first six games in 2018. Yet, our coach is humble, the fans are patient, show signs of kindness and self-control and are faithful for sure. Ninety thousand showed up for the seventh game.

The players won that game and doused our first-year coach with Gatorade after the win. At the post-game interview on television the coach said he didn’t deserve that honor from the team because they just won one game. I know what he meant. When the tennis boys doused me after winning the conference championship, I was elated. We had earned it.

The football games in Nebraska unite us all in one. It doesn’t matter if the whole country is divided in politics, when we gather at Memorial Stadium, we are one. I have a new mission statement for our family-We are all Separate but we are One. My son and his wife turned fifty this October and I offered them a trip somewhere to celebrate together. Guess what, they chose coming to Nebraska. We were able to get tickets for eight of us to go to the game that was never played. Yes, lightning, which no human can control, stopped the game. Did that ruin the night for us? No, not one bit. We had gathered together as a family; sixteen of us had a great time. The memories of running to the car in the rain, not having seen a game and meeting the rest of the family that had watched it NOT happen on TV will be a lasting memory for us.

The highlight for my sister’s family, after her daughter and family traveled to Lincoln to be together and attend a Nebraska football game, was to see our new coach win the seventh game. As mothers, we found joy in having our families together. It does not take the win to feel the true Spirit and love of family.

Prayer: Oh Lord, God of all, thank you for giving us all these wonderful things which are against no laws. Thank you for our families and the joy we have being together, mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Friday, November 2, 2018

Claiming the Tree of Life


Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.  Psalm 1:1-3

Many of us have been in grief and horrified by the shooting at the Tree of Life Synogogue in Pittsburgh on October 27th.  A friend and I attended a memorial service at Tifereth Israel Synogogue in Lincoln. It was reassuring in the midst of this tragedy that so many from many faith traditions were in attendance at this memorial service. It was a united voice – a concert of voices that would agree that hate has no home in this community or elsewhere in the United States. 

One point made a profound impression on me: the Tree of Life as portrayed in Psalm 1. It is descriptive of those who walk in the way of the Lord – who meditate on the Law of God --- God’s Word every day and night. They are like a tree planted by streams of water. That tree is a tree of life that bears fruit and will prosper. My encouragement is that we find the solace of this fruit bearing tree – of God’s Word – God’s Spirit Who ministers not only to this community, but more so, to the Pittsburgh community and to those directly impacted by this tragedy. Yes, God cries with us and we with each other. God is with us in this  as Emmanuel – God with us in Jesus Christ. May we find comfort, strength, and a voice that has the courage to say, “No more!”

Prayer: Most gracious God, keep us nurtured and strengthened through Him Who is our Vine and we are His branches. Fortify us with Your Spirit. May we bring words and deeds of life to a world that is so encumbered by death. Let this day be a day for living in the name of Him Who is the Resurrection and the Life, Jesus Christ. Amen
Rev. Dr. John Duling

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Today


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Today is here! Start with a smile and resolve to be agreeable. Do not criticize. Refuse to waste valuable time.

Today has one thing that is equal with everyone—time. We will draw the same salary in seconds, minutes and hours.

Today-do not waste time, because the minutes wasted yesterday are as lost as a vanished thought.

Today-refuse to spend time worrying about what might happen. Spend time making things happen.

Today-refuse to spend time worrying about what might happen, Spend time making things happen.

Today-be determined to improve yourself for tomorrow you may be wanted, you must not be found lacking.

Today-be determined to do things you should do. Determine to stop doing the things you should not do.

Today-Begin by doing and not wasting time. In one week you will be miles beyond the person you are today.

Today-Stop saying” If I had time for you will never find time for anything—if you want time you must “take” it.

Today- Do not imagine what you would do if things were different. They are not different. Make success with what material you have.

Today-act toward other people as this might be your last day on earth.

Do not wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come.

Prayer: O God be with us as we begin another day. May we look upon this day as another day of opportunity. We thank you, that your love is not measured by an inventory of our progress, but in Christ Jesus, his life, death and resurrection. Sustain us all with your strength and love. Amen

Delbert Olmsted (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotional, published in 2008)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Judging


Do not judge, or you too will be judged. Matthew 7:1

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Matthew 7:1 The Message

The lesson for our confirmand class this past week was to not judge. The students were asked to tell of a time when they judged too quickly. One student brought up disliking a person in her new school and deciding she would never be her friend. Lo and behold, that person is now her best friend. We all agreed this type of first judgment can easily be wrong.

As leaders, we brought up the history of a city Councilwoman. Many people misjudged her. She was seen sleeping on the streets after running away from home. Her family had been dysfunctional with each parent having had four divorces. Surviving a divorce, myself, I feel her pain. She was a homeless person who hadn’t finished high school. Nobody thought she would finish school. This judgment was wrong. Nobody thought she would go to college; she got her undergraduate degree and became a lawyer. Not only did she become a lawyer and work in a very large firm, she opened her own firm. Nobody thought she would become a City Council member of a city, but she might even possibly run for mayor.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, you know each one of us. You have placed us here in this city and in our families. You know our thoughts and how many hairs we have on our heads. As humans, we do not know these things, but we judge. Please help us move away from this sin. Help us to understand each of us has potential even when we do not see it. Keep us from picking on others and talking about others. We need your Spirit to guide us to not follow our natural thoughts. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

“Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Philippians 2:5-11 (9-10 written here.)  


“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16 


“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19


Our fall Sunday worship and sermon’s focus on a section of The Apostles’ Creed.  The September 16 Sunday focus was, “and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;” The day’s hymns and Scripture reflected this focus as well. See below a few details on some of the hymns that were part of worship that Sunday.


Although the contemporary song, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, There’s Just Something About That Name” may not be closely Biblically-based, it is one of those songs that continue to run through our head, all week long. The Bill and Gloria Gaither Vocal Band wrote and performed it starting in the 1960s.


In contrast, the popular hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” lyrics were written in 1779 by Edward Perronet while a missionary in India. Its original eight verses were inspired by Philippians 2:5-11.


Neida Hearn, New Zealand housewife, doing laundry in 1974, composed “Jesus, Name Above All Names”. She had become interested in different Biblical names given to Jesus and their meanings. 


The hymn, “O’ How I Love Jesus” based on I John 4:19, reminds us that we love Jesus “because He first loved me”. It was written by Frederik Whitfeld in the 1800s.  “Fairest Lord Jesus,” another familiar hymn, continued with the Jesus theme.


The sermon, Scripture, and music helped us to understand the phrase of The Apostles’ Creed section, “and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord”.

                       
Prayer: God, we confess that we sometimes say The Apostles’ Creed without understanding its meaning.  Remind us to focus on the words as we say it.  Amen.


Lois Poppe

Monday, October 29, 2018

Music


“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
There are songs I hear and immediately emotional feelings take over; either from a happy or sad moment in my life. Old Rugged Cross brings memories from visiting my uncle in the country on different visits. I remember visiting my Great Uncle Willy and him playing a huge pipe organ brought over from Germany by his parents. My parent’s church had a song hour prior to church service where members could come early to request songs to sing. My mother said she found comfort in hearing certain songs from her past.  At our annual family reunion on Sunday mornings family members will gather and sing their favorite church hymns.   

Because He Lives has been a song of strength for me in many tragic and struggling moments in my life. Many times in my life this song has been sang and it is as if He is bringing a strong arm around me to support me in my sorrow. Many years ago my family was stranded in the snow and we were walking through deep blinding snow and for some reason the lyrics of “If we make it through December, everything’s going to be all right I know”.  Now that song had nothing to do with the time of year as it was April. Looking back on that now and I felt He was telling me in His own way, “Everything is going to be all right”.  Who doesn’t get the childlike comfort when you hear the song Jesus Loves Me? 

Horatio Spafford was a well-known and successful businessman in the 1800s.  He lost his son to illness and not long after he lost much of his wealth in a fire.  He lost 4 daughters in a shipwreck. Even after all this, he wrote the lyrics to It is Well With my Soul. To me, this song is a burst of release of burdens, concerns, and sadness as you feel the strength and comfort enter your soul. 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Throughout my childhood we had music playing all the time, either through records, radio or just singing. It still brings joy to hear these songs. 

Prayer: Dear Father, Thank you for the beautiful music that is brought to us throughout our lives, thank you for the talented musicians, artist and song writers that throughout the years have brought us ways to express our thanks and love for your love. Thank you for the comfort we feel when we sing praise to your name. May we always be blessed with your comfort and love. In Jesus name we pray, Amen. 

Lori Hood


Friday, October 26, 2018

Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7


The 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians in the New Testament is often referred to as the “Love Chapter.”  It is regularly used at weddings, intended as a description of the love between the bride and groom.  


But here’s a different way to think of this scripture.  I recently attended a meeting where a pastor used this chapter as part of a meditation. He asked us to substitute our individual names for the word “love.”  Try it.  Read the above passage and put in your own name each time the scripture uses “love” or “it.” 


How did it feel to say that you are patient and kind?  Can you honestly say that you do not dishonor others?  Are you not easily angered?  Do you rejoice with the truth?


If we substitute God’s name in the passage, we are reminded that God is patient and kind, and He always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Whether we substitute our own name or God’s name in these verses, the meaning is clear--we are called to love one another as God loves us.   
              

Prayer: Dearest Lord, Thank you for sharing your love with us and for showing us how to share our love with others. Forgive us when we are envious, boastful, or proud. Help us to work toward becoming more like your son, Jesus Christ, in making our names synonymous with love.


Robin Hadfield

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Candlelight

When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness.   Job 29:3

The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one's inmost being.   Proverbs 20:27

For you will light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. Psalm 18:28

Yesterday the strange October snowfall arrested the day with its drenching intensity and power.  There was not much to do but watch the whiteness gather over all the vibrant green that had basked in the previous day's sunshine.

Electronics were laid aside as we were without power all afternoon and evening.  Candles and matches came out, and the room was filled with spicy autumnal scents.  The fireplace came alive with warmth and light.  Living with the restrictions inside, and the distractions of the scenery outside, made choices simpler.  That, in itself, was calming.

I was excited to find that I could put a rack on top of a 3-wick candle and heat an ovenproof bowl of soup.  It was an easy day for me, unlike those who must live without power all the time, or go without heat on cold days, or have no home or candles.  Or even soup.

When my children were little, we would go to story time at the public libraries.  At one of these, the librarian would turn on a special lantern when it was time to quiet down and listen to the story.  It lent an air of ritual to an already magical time, and we started to light a candle at story times at home. 

At Halloween, it was fun to light a jack-o-lantern inside when we read spooky stories.  When it got dark, I would light a jack-o-lantern on the table on the deck just outside our dining area, and we enjoyed this lively outdoor guest at our gatherings around our table inside.

At a church in Minnesota, we enjoyed the family celebration of All Saint's Day, where we wore costumes and carved ancient versions of crosses into pumpkins.  This culminated in a procession to the altar with our lit pumpkins, placing them on the steps and having a short service.  Seeing all those symbols flickering light into the darkness was very powerful and cheering.  Candles alone are a hallowed element of worship, but that light paired with the image of the cross was powerful. 

Prayer: Lord of light, shine your pure light to keep us safe and to help us see through your eyes. Help us to shine that light through your face to the world. Help us to give your light to others who feel lost.  Remind us through that light of the mystery and wonder behind it. Amen.
Mollie Manner

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Alive and Kicking

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Sharon Irvin

Monday, October 22, 2018

Thanks for Pastors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robin Hadfield

Friday, October 19, 2018

Remembering Those Suffering


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

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

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

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

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

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

Christi Moock

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Serve the Living God!

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Politics Then and Now


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

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

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

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

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

Sandra Hilsabeck

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Clear Thinking and Common Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robin Hadfield

Monday, October 15, 2018

Rest


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

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

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

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

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

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

Cathy Schapmann