Views

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

That very day, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. And, talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were walking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him…When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished out of their sight. Luke 24: 13-16, 30-31

Everyone has “best” hymns, some for the music, for the beat and rhythm, for the words. Christmas carols have musical charm, simple tunes and easy words. For beat and rhythm, “Onward Christian Soldiers” or “Stand Up For Jesus.” For the words, probably all of Fanny Crosby’s hymns fall into this group, like “Blessed Assurance,” or “I Am Thine Oh Lord.”

Now, my favorite hymns – verses 13-16, on the road to Emmaus. This was a few days after the crucifixion, and the disciples were a lost and discouraged bunch. We’re not sure if the “two of them” were disciples of the twelve, or followers who lived in Emmaus. Many people, when asked the question: “If you could go back to the time of Jesus, and spend only a few minutes near Him, what and where would your choice be? The choices are endless—At the Sermon on the Mount or one of His miracles, healing the blind man, the loaves and fishes, the Last Supper. Where, where?   My choice (and a very personal one) would be to walk with Him on the road to Emmaus.  And to finally name one of my favorite hymns, “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.” Verse 31:  “And their eyes were opened.”  And my second favorite hymn is “Open My Eyes That I May See.”

Prayer: Our heavenly Father, as we continue on our Christian journey, our prayer today is that our eyes be opened that we might see the salvation that awaits us when we walk with your son, Jesus, Our Savior and Redeemer.  Amen

Ned Eastlack (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotion Book, 2008)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Word from Thessalonians

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:6



Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Plan A, B, and C

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17

"Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

I travel sometimes for work, and often alone. I don’t mind this, but sometimes the trip to a location seems lonely, and I’m a bit anxious. On these trips I always like to know a plan B when something may not go as planned. I may have two credit cards available for filling up my gas tank. I may have extra equipment for taking photos than is necessary. I may have someone’s contact info "in my back pocket" just in case of unforeseen circumstances. I feel better when I plan better.

While it’s a good idea to plan well, sometimes life may throw us a curveball. In those instances, God is plan A, B, and C! He is with us through it all, helping us see the way even when circumstances become difficult.

Prayer: Dear Lord, You are with me always. Calm my heart when I am worried, and help me to turn to you in prayer when times are difficult and the road ahead seems frightening. Thank you for your comfort and guidance. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

God is Faithful

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

There is a project I have been working on for two and one-half years. It is something to spread knowledge of God’s word. This summer as I culminated the work and sent it to the printer the Lord was by my side each day. 

Just when I needed an artist, the Lord had an artist move in with my grandson who is studying at the University of Nebraska. He was able to design a cover which greatly enhanced the project. I knew he had talent because his grandmother lived a couple of blocks from me when I was raising my children who played with this student’s father. His grandmother is a great artist and even had her own art studio.

Just when I needed someone to jazz up the inside, my granddaughter came to a journalism camp at UNL and learned more about Adobe printing. This was definitely a God thing because she planned to attend the Kansas camp but couldn’t work out the timing. She is a dancer and even had time to spend part of three days with me. She immediately knew how to help me.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, may we all see when you put “just what we need” in front of us. It is a joy to know that your grace abounds and a joy to watch how you help us serve you with good work. Thank you for giving me stamina to carry out your will. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Monday, September 16, 2019

Loving Others

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6: 32-35


This is one of the hardest verses for me to serve in life. I feel like I could count the people that I dislike or consider to be enemies on one hand. Maybe 5 people that I dislike is a lot, or maybe it isn’t very many. It is hard to live the life mentioned in this verse loving our enemies and doing good to them when we are angry with them, or distrusting of them, or simply disgusted by their personalities.

As part of the human condition, it is easy to want to be rewarded for the good things that we do. We study hard and are rewarded with good grades. We perform well at work and receive promotions, and raises. We volunteer at church and in our community and someone tells us thank you. All of these are times that we give and it is rewarded. A positive reinforcement for our positive actions.

There are also times when we receive negative reinforcement for a positive action, which can certainly create confusion. We have all had that individual in our lives, we give and give but they only focus on what they didn’t get. It can be hard to keep giving and easy for us to throw in the towel.

What about people we have already made a decision about not liking? They may have angered us, intentionally or unintentionally. We may have missed an opportunity to have a conversation because we were SO angry in the moment that we simply abandoned the person or situation and now we have regret. We don’t know how to bring up a hurt that is so old, and has festered for so long, that it might not even be relevant anymore. But we have held on for so long to this person as an enemy, we have blocked any other kind of relationship. 

I wonder a lot about these enemy scenarios. How I can love someone I don’t like?  How I can be falsely nice to them and if that is better or worse than treating them as an enemy? In some of these situations I have tried the kitschy approach – Let Go and Let God. But I see the person again, and they ruffle my feathers again, and I don’t want to let go. I want to be annoyed by them, and justify my attitude towards them, and paint them as a villain. Even though I know it isn’t the Christian thing to do. So I go back the drawing board and again they treat me poorly, or I perceive that they treat me poorly because I admittedly expect the worst of them and we are right back in the cycle. I know I can’t be alone. I know it doesn’t make God love me any less and I know that he forgives me for harboring these feelings. But they feel pretty bad, and they really don’t feel like the person I want to be. 

It’s verses like this from Luke that remind me that God has seen much worse and has better expectations of me. He knows that when my feelings are hurt I might start with anger, but he expects me to get to a better place, of forgiveness. Now I just have to do the work! 

Prayer: God who knows and sees all things, help me to get to a place of resolution with my enemies. In moments where I want to see the bad help me to remember the good. In moments that I am angry, please temper my emotions.  Please help me to share my gifts with all of your children, not just the ones I like!     

Christi Moock

Friday, September 13, 2019

Words from Jeremiah 29


This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.


This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29: 4-14


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Press Forward

Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil: 3:13-14

This scripture was my mother’s motto in life—to press toward…”the high calling of God. My father was a minister and, no matter where we lived, Mother consistently reached out to those in need. In my early childhood we lived in a rural community. Times were hard.

Mother had some training as a nurse and often went to homes to care for people. Even though we lived in the country, transients found their way to our door and Mother always fed them good, nourishing meals.

During the war, we lived in a small town. Mother befriended two young women who were new to the community and shunned by the townspeople who considered the newcomers to be prostitutes. Both were married to servicemen and the husband of one of them was killed in the war. Mother went to see them, offered them friendship and acceptance, and invited them to come to church.   Although they didn’t come, their children began to attend Sunday School  regularly.

Mother always loved children. She read to them, told wonderful stories, and invented little games. In her eighties she cared for the beautiful little daughter who lived across the street while her mother, Liz, an immature, flirtatious, narcissistic young woman was at work. Mother didn’t preach to her, but as their relationship developed, Liz began to get new insight into her role and responsibilities as a wife and mother.

Wherever she lived, whether in the country, a small town, or a city, Mother worked to develop a sense of community among her neighbors. She visited them and was interested in their lives; she helped them in time of need; and she invited groups of neighbors into her home for coffee and fellowship. It was all a part of her pressing toward what she felt was the “high calling of God.”

Mother wasn’t a saint. She had faults and foibles as all of us do. But she never stopped trying to live her convictions. I received a letter from her shortly before she died. She wrote, “I’m tired,” and I knew that meant she was ready to move on. Thus the scripture from Paul’s letter was the theme for the celebration of her life—“I press forward.”

Prayer: Dear God, Help us, every day, to forgive ourselves for past sins and to press onward in our quest to do your will. Amen.

Marie Fischer (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotional, 2008)


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Church That Matters

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we much help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. Acts 20:35

I heard the writing below over the weekend and really reflected on the truth in this message.  As a society, we have transitioned in so many ways. We have decided what we are interested in, what we are disinterested in, what is below us, and what is outdated in our faith.  While the message below is taken from a Unitarian Universalist pastor it could easily be repeated in many churches in present day society. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of a church that really matters.  Where we put value into making sure that there are opportunities for all our members and not just one or two groups.  A church where we spend time looking at where we want to go in the future, and then taking those goals and making a plan.  A church where the congregation is committed to the work that we have chosen…. and is willing to get their hands dirty. A church where we are passionate but respectful about the small disagreements, so that we can be prepared for the large disagreements – while still loving one another.  

The Church That Doesn't Matter by Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

In the church that doesn’t matter, there are no quarrels, no arguments, and no one ever says anything they regret at the meeting to discuss the sanctuary’s new paint color. There is nothing to inspire such passionate intensity because none of the decisions of the church touch anyone’s heart, and no one lives or dies by its choices, or even feels for a moment like they might. Everything is easy as pie.

In the church that doesn’t matter, no one has to ask for money, or even talk about it much: there is always enough to go around. There is always enough, because no matter how much there is, there is always less to do with it than that. The vision always shrinks to under-match the means. So canvass season is always a breeze.

In the church that doesn’t matter, no one ever disagrees with the preacher’s sermon. The music is always just fine. There is never a fight about the liturgy, not even if they do joys and sorrows (and not even if they stop doing joys and sorrows). There is never any controversy because no one ever says anything they really care about, and no one else ever seems to care. Because of this, the service is always equally inoffensive at both 9 o’clock and 11.

The sounds of children during worship, the recruitment of Sunday School teachers, the compensation of professional religious educators and the size and condition of space dedicated to religious education; none of these things are ever talked about, or thought about, in the church that doesn’t matter. Those issues just seem to take care of themselves, somehow.
No one ever has to clean up in the church that doesn’t matter. Or figure out the old electrical system, or consult the building codes, or climb a ladder. If no one bothers to make coffee on Sunday, no one complains, and if no one greets the visitors, no one seems to mind. Everything is easier in the church that doesn’t matter.

The total solution to all the frustrations of congregational life requires no consultants, manuals, or webinars. Simply avoid, at all costs, meaning and purpose and anything that might lead you to either or both. Whatever you do, do not let yourself care about the people around you, or the covenant you share.

Yet, knowing this, we still decide again and again to ask tough questions, to take real risks, to do work that needs doing, and to tell the truth. We get out of bed on Sunday morning, we answer that email, we make something imperfect but still sweet for the bake sale and we give our time and attention to a meeting every third Thursday. We ask each other how we’re doing, and mean it, we make phone calls and craft projects for the first grade class – we offer our gifts, both humble and great. And we do these things, sometimes in joy, and sometimes not in joy, because they are done in the service of a church that matters to us.

Prayer: Amazing God – help us to remember that everything we do is not joyful.  The tasks that are part of our church life must be shared by all members.  Help each member of our church community to think about the ways that they can serve the church and one another.  Help us to be passionate about the things that matter and respectful in communicating our needs.  Remind us that none of the work of the congregation should be abandoned in a church that matters to us.

Christi Moock

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

If I Only Touch the Hem of His Garment


And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment; for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well.” Jesus turned and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.  Matthew 9: 20-21   

And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent round to all that region and brought to him all that were sick, and besought him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well. Matthew 14:35-36

But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:2 

I have borrowed today's devotion from The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn. Every Jewish man was ordered by God to wear a prayer shawl. The shawl was to have corners with fringes on them. The woman in Matthew 9 touched the fringe of Jesus' prayer shawl and was made well. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and predicts the Messiah will arise “With healing in its wings”,  i.e. a different translation is healing in its fringes. People who were not afraid to touch Jesus found healing in their wings.

Cahn points out that we should never be afraid to touch God. If God puts fringes on His garment, He is touchable. “So touch God with your infirmities, your wounds, your uncleanness, your sins, with the darkest part of your life, and you will be changed."

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to remember to touch God with the darkest, most painful, most ungodly part of our lives—that we might find healing in your wings.

Nancy Hall



Monday, September 9, 2019

Benediction


Benediction by The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, at the funeral of Rachel Held Evans


“Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you."


“Blessed are those whom no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers. The closeted. The teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you."


“Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like. Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried. Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else. Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.” Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you."


“I imagine Jesus standing here blessing us because I believe that is our Lord’s nature. This Jesus cried at his friend’s tomb, turned the other cheek, and forgave those who hung him on a cross because He was God’s Beatitude— He was God’s blessing to the weak in a world that only admires the strong."  


[And shall Rachel have this last word…]


“‘Jesus invites us into a story bigger than ourselves and our imaginations, yet we all get to tell that story with the scandalous particularity of this moment and this place. We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God. May we never neglect that gift. May we never lose our love for telling the story. Amen.'”


Rev. Thomas Dummermuth shared a portion of this in his benediction on August 18.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Prayer


Be joyful always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


If asked to define prayer, most of us would quickly say, “Something expressed in words.”  Prayer is really an attitude of the heart.  I see it more fundamentally as our being in God’s presence. Sometimes words are appropriate and sometimes they get in the way. Often they simply do not matter. Let prayer become the breath of your spirit. Let it be the beating of your heart. Where our whole selves are engaged in relationship with God, there prayer will be, even if words are not used.


Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to pray without ceasing.  Help us to make room in our hearts to place you first in our hearts.  Amen


Peg Olmsted (reprinted from Eastridge Daily Devotional Book, 2008)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What is Truth?

This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the LORD,
Who has made all things,
Who alone stretched out the heavens,
Who spread out the earth by myself,
Who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners,
Who overthrows the learning of the wise
And turns it into nonsense,
Who carries out the words of his servants
And fulfills the predictions of his messengers. Isaiah 44:24-26


Today, when we don’t know what we read or hear is fake news or not we need to turn to our LORD who made our world and foils the signs of false prophets. We have researchers working for all kinds of reasons who are looking at old newspapers and other books and papers written by men. How can we know that what they find is fake news or not?


We need to consider the Bible was written over a period of 1400 years by about 44 different people, but still has Jesus giving us salvation as its basic truth. It is amazing. The Bible truth has lasted 2000 years and is the most published book in the world.


Prayer: Dear LORD, thank you for your word. Thank you that the disciples had first-hand knowledge of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, and the Resurrection fulfilling the predictions of your messengers. Help us to be sustained through this century of mass media coming at us from all directions. Help us to know who is foolish and who is wise. Amen.


Sandra Hilsabeck

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Pruning

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.  If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:7-9


Pruning: we all need to do it.


I’m reading a book by local author Michelle DeRusha: “True You”. In this spiritual book, Michelle outlines several analogies between a human life and the life of a tree. She talks about pruning, and the role a Japanese gardener has in ensuring that his trees thrive.


For me, one area that needs pruning is making judgements of others based on my psychological assessment of them. Whether or not I’m correct, I should remember that I don’t know everyone’s story…unless they share it with me.


It was hard for me to think through what things needed pruning in my life. When asked “What needs pruning in your life?” many of us may think “I do too much, I need to start saying no”, and while this can be true, I think we’re taking the easy way out if we ONLY think of scaling back our activities. I think we need to look at our behaviors and how we’re reacting to relationships, outside forces beyond our control, co-workers, family members…if we are honest with ourselves, there are going to be things that need pruning. And not just our social calendars.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.


Prayer: Dear Lord, it’s hard to let go of some deep-seated habits in our lives…we may have lived with them for so long, they make us comfortable. Help us to prune by showing us where we can change, and then give us the strength to make those changes. Be with us as we strive to follow You. Amen.


Donna Gustafson

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Friends



Recently my sister was diagnosed with cancer. We have begun a journey of what many families before us have endured. We had lost my Dad to colon cancer; so we thought we had followed all the preventive steps to hopefully avoid this diagnosis. 

Then thinking we were beginning a possibility of a more relaxed schedule with the possibility of more travel my sister retired. Having her regular scheduled mammogram began her unexpected steps to find out she has cancer. A new life schedule is presented with so much new information, choices, and fears. 

I pray I can be a supportive sister. I pray for her healing, her strength, her comfort and God’s love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray for all those facing a change in their life plans, an illness, a loss or any unexpected news. Help us to be there for those who are affected. Help us to find the words and actions that are needed by those individuals. Please hold them in your loving arms. Amen
Lori Hood

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day!



I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

Friday, August 30, 2019

Matthew 5

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:1-16


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Another Battle


As many families have had to endure, my family has been affected by heartbreak of another bad diagnosis, another death in the family, or another life altering change. Recently it seems like we are at that "don’t answer the phone stage", as you are afraid it’s more bad news. A phone call saying my Aunt had died in an automobile accident, a cousin diagnosed with breast cancer, a cousin with diabetes complications having to have their leg amputated and a cousin’s marriage breaking up. The feeling of that’s enough!

It was surrounding me with the feeling isn’t there anything good anymore? I prayed please show me why. More bad news and I continued to pray this isn’t fair and I don’t understand how this could be in your plan.

Then the end of July came our family reunion. This year it was in Washington state. This meant many of us would be driving many miles to attend. It would be a connected journey of separate cars connected by Facebook. Each group posted where they were throughout the day and the sites and adventures they encountered. Families not able to attend and family that already lived in Washington could keep up with all members and comment on events. There were funny adventures, beautiful adventures and even two different accidents.  (Both with minor damage and injuries). Then when we all arrived we spent four days catching up, reflecting on our experiences, talking about family and praying together. Then we headed home with the same communication till everyone knew everyone was home. 

I left with a renewed feeling that not all is good, not that I know where every path is leading, but that I have all I need. God, Family and Friends. 

God is with me, always guiding me. Family and Friends are with me. I have many blessings and I am never alone.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for always being with me. Thank you for sending your Son to save me. Thank you for sending me family and friends to help along my journey. Help me to remember my blessings and to trust in your love when all that surrounds me seems dark. Amen


Lori Hood


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sermon Notes: from the "cutting room floor"


It happens sometimes that there’s something to share about a text that doesn’t fit with the direction of the sermon. This excerpt is from the sermon on August 11, 2019.  The text is Romans 8:18-39, and was inspired by the words of Dr. Aida Weran, lecturer at the Nile Theological College in Kartouhm, Sudan:  “Hope for tomorrow gives us strength to make it through the suffering of today.”  The sermon itself focused on the hope that comes from God, even in the midst of our suffering. However, in light of recent shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and the funerals for the victims of those shootings, I wanted to share the following:

            
Today of all days, I need to throw something in here…because…it’s just on my heart…about suffering. In the last week I’ve read a lot of headlines and reports wondering who will do what, who said what (that shouldn’t have), and what will happen now. And I also know that it sometimes seems like an easy platitude to use words that roll off our tongues too easily, full of good intentions and sometimes poor follow through, “pray for the people who’ve lost,” “you’re in our thoughts and prayers,”  “we suffer with you.” But the truth is, and Aida would tell you this, that there will be no hope for healing until the suffering is acknowledged. And it’s one thing I haven’t really seen too much of. Anger, division, blame…and I wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves to lament, to suffer with and for those whose lives have been torn apart. I know, it’s hard, because it makes us feel like we’re weak, to acknowledge the pain.  Paul here, though, says that it is the Holy Spirit who “intercedes with sighs and groans too deep for words” (or – as one scholar paraphrased the Greek – the Spirit groans with our groaning.) The Spirit groans with us and for us and in us, calling out from our place of suffering to the God who redeems us through the suffering of Jesus Christ. 

Rev. Dr. Melodie Jones Pointon

Monday, August 26, 2019

Angels Unaware

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2


When I was 13 years old I went with friends to the fair for the first time with NO PARENTS! We were having a great time – riding the rides, playing games, looking at boys until we rode one of the spinning rides and two of us got sick.  We were SO embarrassed, we had been so cool and now we were leaning over the garbage can hoping that no one saw us (especially not any cute boys). A young woman who was probably a student from UNL raced to our aid. She had napkins from concessions, a soda and half a roll of Tums from the bottom of her purse. She held our hair, helped us clean up, gave us a drink and shared the Tums with us and told us it was no big deal. Anytime I think of someone I am grateful to she pops up in my memories! A complete stranger who came to me when I thought I was older and more grown up than I was, who shared all she had and brushed it off as no big deal.    


In August Brian and I spent a weekend traveling to a few different concerts and one sporting event. The first performance that we went to was in Chicago and attendees were allowed to bring in a picnic, water, soft drinks, lawn chairs, blankets and games. Admittedly it was the first concert I have ever attended that you could bring in your own food and non-alcoholic drinks (I refuse to buy $5 water). A few minutes after we got settled into our spot the couple in front of us had a lawn chair completely fall apart. No one was harmed! This left the husband to sit in the remaining lawn chair and the wife to sit on the mat they brought and then to sit on her sweatshirt to give her a boost. She was very petite and slender so after a little discussion we offered her our cooler as a seat. It’s soft-sided so we weren’t sure how much support it would give her but it was better than a sweatshirt for a boost. They were completely shocked that strangers would be willing to help them (much as I was when I was a young teen). They had fun taking pictures of her on the cooler and she had a great view of the show the rest of the night. They were also delighted to meet someone from Nebraska! 


Reflecting on these experiences reminded me of this verse from Hebrews. I try hard to always be good to others. Obviously the stranger in my life has had a lasting impact on me and I am hopeful that I can have the same impact on strangers…. or, as Edgar Guest famously said, friends I haven’t met yet.


Prayer: God who watches all things, thank you for those who sweep in and save us, even when it is just from embarrassment.  Thank you for the moments when we have enough to share.  Help us to remember to offer our hospitality to all of your children, in all of the times we find one another in need.  

Christi Moock






Friday, August 23, 2019

A Wonderful Lord He Is

To wake up in the morning—listening to the sing-song ping of rain on the roof and to realize that this, too, is a good day.

To know the squish of wet sod underfoot will yield grain and flowers, rather than mud and inconvenience.

To know that the glint of sunlight off broken glass and abandoned houses gives a glimpse of beauty where some see only ugliness.

To understand the promise of sun bursting through a cloudy sky and a rainbow over a field of grass and horses.

A wonderful Lord, he is; one who gave us a world full of beauty—beauty that is there for us to enjoy if only we will let ourselves be aware of it.

A world of sparkles, reflections, shadows, colors, textures, shapes, contrasts and movements which allows thought and feelings to grow and flourish.

A world full of promise for today, tomorrow and the day after that—full of promise that the faithful will endure, that evil will perish, that beauty can motivate our lives through our seeing, reading, thinking, understanding and sharing.

That God gave us these abilities to observe and be involved in life’s beauty evermore.

A wonderful Lord, He is.

George and Mary Lynn Tuck (reprinted from the 1972 Eastridge Devotional Book)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Reassurance


          
Back in 1953, when I lived in California and taught a ‘release time” class in high school, I was very unsettled in my own mind just exactly what I believed in, how much faith I had in prayer, in Christ and God. I felt I shouldn’t be teaching these high school boys and girls about things I wasn’t certain of myself. I became anxious about these questions and tried to pray for guidance. My husband offered his help as best he could, but I needed definite answers. Could I tell these youngsters to pray about their problems—that God would surely help them find an answer? My anxiety continued for several days. Finally, one morning while doing my housework, I felt a very warm, strong feeling of love around my chest and the word “reassurance” came to mind. I thought to myself, what is this that is happening to me? What should I do with this much Love? How do I get rid of it? It lasted only a few minutes, then gradually left me. I marveled at its apparent power and wholesomeness. I thought no evil could exist when surrounded with such a Presence. Now, years later I remember this experience and try to recapture this lovely moment of “reassurance.”

Myra Dickerson (reprinted from the 1972 Eastridge Devotional Book)





Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Prayer from August 11 liturgy


Lord God,
source of Hope and Justice for the World, we ask that you cast your net over each one of us today.
Individually, we need to sort out or lives, that the emphasis of our heart’s desires are first and foremost centered on the values of the Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is for each of us:
a place where we know ourselves to be recognised, valued, cared for and blessed. In that place we come closest of all to identifying ourselves children of God; beneficiaries of your full care and protection.

Your Kingdom is for others.
A place where others too will have their needs met, their potential fulfilled. Some in the world need help to clear the way for
that experience to be possible. May the work of the Kingdom flourish in the lives of those who face individual hardships or community challenge.

So this day we pray for those who see no hope in their lives.
May they be reminded that from the smallest seed of possibility hope can be born and grow.

We pray for those who are starving, who hunger for bread.

We pray for those who cannot find the treasure they are looking for: the right career, the perfect companion, peace in their hearts, the family of their dreams, inner satisfaction, the right opportunity, fulfillment.

We pray for those whose poverty or circumstances mean
they possess little that the world would deem as precious.

And we pray for those who cannot sort out the good from the bad in life;
who cannot maintain a desired life for themselves
because of mistakes accidentally made or the result of bad choices.

Lord, may your Kingdom come
for people across the whole world.
It is abundant and available for all.
It is not meant to be in the possession of some in the world, 

but is given for all.

Use us, active God,
that we might live by the values of the Kingdom
and direct us that we might uncover that wonderful treasure
so others may possess and share it.

We pray all this in Jesus’ name, who taught us to pray together, saying,

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done; on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts; as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen  

 
Prayers of the People - from Spill the Beans, 2014