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

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Blessings of God

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me”, he said and he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loves. Then he gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:15-21

My husband and I have been involved in a variety of youth programs in our relationship. One of our favorite stories is the year that the band boosters group was running short of funds and we decided to serve concessions leftovers from the State Band Competition to all the band students, families and leaders at the end of marching season banquet. We had 125 students, between 150-210 parents, some siblings and 8 band directors/leaders. Planning to feed 300+ people is always pretty exciting, planning to feed them all with leftovers was pretty risky. We had a couple boxes of uncooked hamburgers and hot dogs, a variety of leftover individual bags of chips and plenty of bottled water. We e-mailed all the band parents and asked them to bring cookies - homemade, store bought, whatever they had on hand. 

The night of the banquet three of the band dads grilled and delivered all the meat and leftover buns and we served people for over an hour. A few of us were getting nervous, there was a huge line of people and we had told the directors and booster leadership that they would have to eat last because we weren’t sure we would have enough. We had grandparents that we hadn’t estimated in our count and every table in the school cafeteria was full. When we opened the last pan of meat we started to joke about the loaves and the fishes and the possibility that we would need to have someone run to get emergency carryout pizzas. But we made it through…the band director was the last through the line and we were even able to give him some extra cookies. While we were afraid that there wouldn’t be enough we used up all the leftovers (money that would not be made back otherwise) and we heard from so many parents and kids about how much fun it was to eat “band competition food”. 

Since that time when I get worried about not having enough of something (desserts for a party, Christmas gifts, etc) I think back on how we were all full of joy with leftovers and the benefits of having just enough. 

Prayer: Bountiful God, thank you for providing for my family. It is comforting to have enough. Please be with those who are struggling to make ends meet, help us all to share our excess so that everyone can have enough. Amen

Christi Moock

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Old & New Commandments

I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. John 13:34

You can see by this photo of the Ten Commandments that hung on the wall as I grew up, that they are different from the New Commandment given by Jesus. As we were studying Ezekiel, we realized there was a different tone in the New Testament. The words were negative when God gave the commandments to the Israelites. Thou Shalt Not, Thou Shalt Not and Thou Shalt Not were repeated several times. We were told NOT to do things. Jesus said positively, “Love One Another.”

If we truly love one another, we won’t kill, commit adultery, steal from others or tell wrong things about our neighbors. If we truly love them, we won’t even want what they have, but will be happy they have it.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Belhar Confession

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you, And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Our January GiFT introduced us to the Belhar Confession. As stated in our January 6th weekly Lamp: “Our journey through the beliefs of our Church takes us from the oldest creeds to our newest statement of faith – and also into a very different part of the world! The Confession of Belhar is the most recent addition to our Book of Confession. It was written in 1986 in South Africa in the context of Apartheid, a system of laws that separated people by race.”

An explanation of the Belhar Confession background was given on the back of our January 13, 2019 worship bulletin.  “The 2016 General Assembly made history by voting June 22 to add the Belhar Confession – a moving call for reconciliation and a condemnation of racial injustice written in the crucible of the struggle over apartheid – to the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.’s Book of Confessions.”

The Belhar Confession: Why it is significant to us today.

The Belhar Confession affirms what scripture teaches – that all humankind is created in the image of God. Each has the dignity and worth as a child of God.

Belhar affirms that all humankind can live together in unity – in right relationship with God.

Belhar affirms that God’s activity is through the church, which is founded on the person and cornerstone of Jesus Christ.

The Belhar acknowledges that though the hope of the “age to come” is our future promise, we still live in a world of sin and alienation.  However, we live as well in a hope that reconciliation, compassion and justice will prevail. Personally, this is to allow the incarnate Christ to dwell within each person in mission.

The Belhar is clear that Jesus Christ is Head and Lord of the Church.

It is easy for us to point fingers at examples of racism and injustice in our world. It is harder for us to look at ourselves and see the ways we are prejudiced against persons who look or act differently from us.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to examine ourselves and learn new ways of working against racism and injustice. Amen.

Lois Poppe

Monday, January 28, 2019

Where Others Have Gone Before Us

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

One of our dogs needed the services of a 24-hour pet clinic recently, and while in the waiting area, my daughter and I noticed a slippery floor, evidence of someone and their pet there previously.

Once we arrived at a Target store to the ambulance departing, and wondered what had happened. There was evidence of whatever had caused the 911 call in the greeting card aisle, and, again, we felt concern for whomever had needed medical assistance that day.

When we think of others, their tragedies, their “messes” in waiting rooms and elsewhere, we can take time to think of how we are connected. The oft-repeated phrase “there but for the grace of God go I” can mean that we’re grateful that this time, misfortune has escaped us; and it can help us understand that next time, the crisis may be ours.

When we see this evidence of humanity with no visible human attached, it's sometimes harder to feel a connection. However, I think we can use this as an opportunity to feel our connections more clearly...the "not knowing" may spark imagination, requiring effort. If we think about it, not having a specific face attached make cause us to feel their vulnerability as our own. Taking the time to feel connected with those who have gone before us may help us empathize with those in our own midst, their pain and “messes” that are either left behind, or happening right now. Pray for one another, care for one another, know that we are all children of God.

In addition to the scripture above, words from Paul and others emphasize this connection:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11  

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-7 
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works Hebrews 10:24

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:26

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to notice others in my midst. Help me to put aside my own concerns and reach out in prayer, empathy, or action to recognize our connectedness as human beings that you have created. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Friday, January 25, 2019

One Minute Testimony - RHCP

Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22

He redeemed us so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, and that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:14  

Finally, let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help. Hebrews 4:16

Steve Janovec has worked with many people and organizations in the City of Lincoln. He called me one day to meet with him and learn how to tell my testimony in one minute. What did he mean?

After talking with him I came up with RHCP. This has become handy for me as I talk with people on planes and other short acquaintances. It also helps others understand why I want to serve our Lord Jesus.

R eceived, H aughty, C risis, P rayer – that’s it!

I received Christ as a teen on a mountaintop MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) experience. I became haughty when we were successful and became able to buy about anything we wanted. Then everything fell apart in my life and I found myself in a crisis. I had nowhere to turn but to my God. I prayed and prayed. God answered by giving me more blessings than I could ever imagine. God is so good. He taught me He was with me through everything and gave me a warm heart allowing me to forgive and go forward.

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for taking me in as one of your children. You sent Jesus to redeem me, forgive me and teach me how to forgive. You gave me the Holy Spirit and the desire to come to you in time of trouble. You were there for me and gave me mercy and grace. Thank you. Please be with members of Eastridge Presbyterian Church who need you now. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Knowing When to Walk Away

Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride. Don’t be quick tempered, for anger is the friend of fools. Proverbs 17:14

I was thinking this week about interpersonal relationships and the people that I am drawn to and those I prefer to reject. Even though as Christians we want to be good, kind and nice to everyone there are just people that we won’t like and it can be very hard to get past.   

We all have someone in our lives who is flighty. Maybe they don’t pay attention to detail, or they never have a plan, or they are very immature and live in a fantasy world. I’m a planner… about everything. I know where I’ll go for vacation in 2019, I know what we are eating for dinner every day next week and I know where I want to be 1 year from now, 5 years from now, and 10 years from now. I always have a plan B – but I like to clearly identify my path, who I am walking with and what I am walking toward. 

The flighty person in my life has ideas but never plans. She might want to write a book, but she won’t take the time to plan what it is she wants to write about or when she wants to start, or a goal to do a certain amount every day. She might want to start her own business, but she won’t research the costs, or the legal rules, just the fun and interesting things. Because she doesn’t ever take the time to plan, she often fails… and then blames the universe instead of learning from the mistake or taking personal accountability. Because I’m a planner this behavior is exhausting for me and I often feel frustrated when I’m exposed to this person. These things that I don’t like and don’t respect draw me away from them. 

In our day to day lives that would be fine. We meet someone, find out that we can’t overcome our differences and we go our separate ways… but it doesn’t always work that way. What if the person we don’t like is our boss? A sibling?  An in-law? What if we feel forced to tolerate and interact with that person because of their relationship in our lives? 

I historically have used avoidance. I’ve tried anger management. I’ve tried to remember that patience is better than pride but it isn’t always easy and it doesn’t make me feel like a good person, it still makes me feel frustrated and that’s part of being human. Even when I desire strongest to do the right thing, I must remember that there are benefits to all of these approaches and there isn’t always one right approach. And sadly, there are times when I will have to eliminate a relationship in my life because it is just too frustrating, or too disruptive. As we are moving away from those relationships we may need to mourn them, or talk about them, or feel compelled to stand our ground because we know that walking away is the only way we can maintain our emotional and personal wellness, even when it doesn’t feel like the kind, Christian thing to do.   

Prayer: Creator God, help us to be patient with all the different personalities in our lives. Help us to control our emotions and our tongues, there are things that we cannot take back. Help me as I deal with the frustrations of being a human and of managing relationships and dissolving those that are not healthy in my life.  

Christi Moock

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Prayer of Confession

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

When anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. Leviticus 5:5

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

As a teacher, I’ve seen that there are different ways different schools go about their apologies. At my current position, this is our structure for apologies:
I’m sorry for ________. Next time I will ________. Do you accept my apology?

This is a really amazing way to teach apologizing- even if their body language doesn’t mean it. We are asking students to literally NAME what they did wrong. They have to recognize their actions had an impact on someone. Then they have to continue by sharing what they will do next time so they don’t hurt the person again in a similar situation. It has proven quite effective in classroom management; when you have to name what you did wrong in an apology and say what you’ll do next time- the apology has weight. It has meaning. And you are much less likely to want to do that again.

Maybe you see where I’m going with this… Every Sunday we say the Confession together. And we all know we sin, we’re taught that from a young age in the church. So we have no problems saying the prayer of confession. And it has all the parts- I’ve done these things and shouldn’t have (I’m sorry for…), asking for leadership and guidance (Next time I will…), and a request to be forgiven (do you accept my apology).

And then there is a moment of silence. I’ve heard people complain about the “moment of silence” being too long. It’s why when my dad pastored a small church the accompanist played music during the moment of “silence.”

That moment of silence, we are told, is for our own personal confessions. Yes, we already listed our sins earlier. The Confession prayer is usually very general- It applies to everyone, no matter what you did. But we didn’t truly NAME what we have done to hurt others (or ourselves). That silence is for us to reflect on our own actions. To actually tell God what we did against our significant other, parent, child, friend, neighbor… The moment of silence is to be filled with our own conversations with God. I challenge myself to name specific moments I knew I sinned over the past week during that time. Would you join me in that challenge?

Kylie Meter

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24-25

I was welcomed home one day with the strong aroma of skunk. I could smell it but couldn’t see it. Thank goodness it didn’t see me either. I took refuge in the house where the smell was less noticeable. I have been more cautious letting my dog out as I don’t think I am stocked up with enough tomato juice and not really interested in trying to comb peanut butter through her winter thick coat. 

My grandnephew decided he wanted to go exploring, and came running back saying I think I saw a tail hanging out of the dog house. It’s a dog house apparently left by a previous resident. Later I went out to see three ugly faces looking out, baby possums. 

I have since seen older, bigger, fatter possums wandering about the yard. 

So along with the beautiful scenery around here there are those we can observe and appreciate for they add to the big wonderful earth that God created.

Lori Hood

Monday, January 21, 2019

Pray for Wisdom

"If any of you lacks wisdom. Let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him."  James 1:5

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly." Proverbs 2: 6-7

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.  His praise endures forever."  Psalm 111:10

Wow, all wisdom comes from a fear of, trust in, commitment to God! Wisdom is a gift from God, a revelation. Knowledge comes from learning, from education and experience, it comes from our interactions with our world and with others. We can look around to gain knowledge but we must look up to gain wisdom. As I experience more and more life,(i.e. grow older), this realization becomes more real and more significant in my life.  

We need wisdom in our relationships with others and to guide our life's decisions and choices, daily. We need to pray for wisdom, read scripture, and surround ourselves with those who embody and model a commitment to Christ-like wisdom. Choosing to seek God's wisdom cannot be a New Year's resolution, but instead, is a lifelong commitment and process.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask you for wisdom each day to guide my personal interactions, lead me through difficult times, and make decisions that embody integrity, faith, and hope. You have given me unconditional love and mercy. May that lead me to do the same with others! Thank you for imparting your wisdom to me through your Word and through daily prayer and through our spiritual leaders at Eastridge. 

Connie Barry

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Words from the Book of Peter

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 1 Peter 3: 8- 22

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Price of Our Peace

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

The prophet Isaiah addressed the Jewish people around 700 B.C., during the time that they were in captivity in Babylonia. They were displaced and miserable. Isaiah was reminding them that they needed to turn away from their sinful ways and back to God, who had promised to send a messiah to save them. Isaiah seemed to know more about the future savior than anyone, and he accurately foretold the suffering that Jesus would endure in order to save God’s people.  But while the Jewish people had to wait hundreds of years for their messiah, and many did not recognize Him when he appeared, we have the advantage of knowing “the rest of the story,” as told in the New Testament. By sending His son to earth, God proved how much He loves even His sinful people, and we have only to believe His promise that our faith in Jesus Christ will lead us to “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Prayer:  Gracious and loving God, as we prepare to celebrate His birth, we thank You for the mercy You have shown Your sinful people by sending Jesus to live among us. We thank You for the peace that comes with our faith in the Trinity, and we pray that others will find such peace as well. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done. Amen.

Judith Keller (reprinted from 2016)

Friday, January 11, 2019

A New Commandment

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 3:34-35

January, a new year. In my research for today's devotion, I found the word "new" to be a very rich term with endless possibilities. A new car, new house, new clothes, new TV show, new cruise, new job, on and on. And, in my sunset years, it's nice to think back on the good "old" days, and I have fond memories of experiencing all the new things just mentioned. However, all of those items are just things, all temporary, easily lost, often easily forgotten. What is really new, positive, permanent, enduring? Read again John 13:34: a new commandment, love one another the constant theme. And, just as powerful, verse 35, the constant theme that love for one another makes all men know we are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, as we continue on our Christian journey, may we always remember the new commandment, that we love one another as Jesus has loved us. Amen.

Ned Eastlack (reprinted from Daily Devotional Book, 2008)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Heaven and Animals

The wolf and the lamb will live together…the calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. Isaiah 11:6 NLT

Larry Libby’s children’s book says that heaven surely has little furry creatures since we love them so much on earth. And heaven is a place where we will be happy. Pets make children and adults happy.

I had a friend look shocked when she heard some of us talking about people having souls but animals do not. We said, God breathed life into Adam. She said, you mean I will never see my dog I loved so much in heaven? We couldn’t tell her she wouldn’t because of the verse above and a chapter in John Burke’s “Imagine Heaven” about near death experiences. He tells about a child, a ten year old, who “died” in a judo accident, but was revived. She clearly said she saw Skippy there who had died some years earlier.

John Burke, after his research, says Heaven will be a harmonious place where past relationships, all play, and even all work will thrive and fulfill God’s purpose, free from earth’s curse of decay and destruction.

Prayer: Oh, Lord, thank you for your glimpses of Heaven and all its possibilities. Help us to have faith and believe what you have promised us. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Finding Your Peace

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place Mark 6:32

Several years ago, my husband bought a t-shirt that reads: Mark 6:32 – when Jesus said rest and relax, he probably meant you should paddle. So enjoy the sharp rocks, steep portages, mosquito bites, high winds, bears, rain, and rapids. 

Every year our family travels to Ely, Minnesota for a week on the lake with limited distractions. We pack up games, books and lake necessities and take time to enjoy one another and get back to nature. It has been a tradition in our extended family since the 1940s and the resort has become a family reunion destination of sorts. We sleep in the same cabin, often eat the same meals and relax in familiarity. 

When I tell people about the trip I immediately say the best part is no television, no phone, and no internet. Even though I work in technology and I appreciate all the things that our electronic tools can help us do (my dearest appliances are the microwave and the Roomba vacuum) I long for a break from these tools and conveniences. This week takes us to a place that is remote and, while not necessarily solitary it gives us time with nature, time with one another, time with family seen infrequently and time away from the “comforts of home”. When we go into town for groceries or meals we have all been guilty of using our phones for e-mail, news updates or texting with friends, but there is true relaxation in getting away from the rush of commitments and responsibilities that fill our time and all the devices that distract us from one another. 

Don’t get me wrong, we have been on more glamorous vacations, but we always end up back in the 100-year-old cabin, heating the water to do the dishes and walking up the hill for a shower. And we always take the boat, to our solitary place.

Prayer: Creator of all things, thank you for times of solitude and rejuvenation. Thank you for the gifts of technology and the opportunity to take a break. Thank you for helping us to find balance. Amen

Christi Moock

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

I decided to make a change in my life and move closer to my family. The change began with looking for a home. I was in no hurry so I took the time to look into a couple different options as I had told myself when the right house became available that would be the exact time to move. The opportunity came for a home that was close to my family and was a nice setting outside in the country. This also meant giving up the conveniences of living in the city of immediate access to groceries, shopping and restaurants. This meant moving farther away from friends. It meant giving up activities and volunteer work that I have become accustomed to and enjoy. I had now lived in Lincoln for almost 30 some years.  I had already downsized a major portion but still plenty to move. I also knew that my grand-niece and nephews were growing up fast and to enjoy them more the closer I lived, the easier it would be.  

The labor-some task had begun. It is then I remembered I don’t like moving: the packing, cleaning, and asking friends and relatives for their help loading the moving truck, etc. I joked I should have moved when I was younger when my friends were younger and healthier. I have moved 9 times before but was younger and healthier. I pushed on and we had gotten everything in the truck to my new address, but my car and was full of fragile items I didn’t trust in the truck. On my last trek, we headed out; my sister was following me and we had three bridges to cross near Platte River. Only 5 more miles, when as they say out of nowhere a huge deer stepped in front of my vehicle. BANG! The van came to a stop, steam which I had at first thought was smoke came from the engine. Then darkness, the lights went out and the engine stopped. Thank goodness my sister was behind me as she had headlights to light the road. Then the most painful part was in front of me, the deer obviously crippled but not dead. It kept attempting to get up. I called 911 and she asked if everyone was okay, and yes both my dog and I were fine. My dog had been snuggled safely on the floor; I had my seatbelt on which did cut across my throat which felt like it had cut me, and was sore on right side of chest from the pressure of the seatbelt. But no major injuries. I had already slowed down knowing the bridges and being in the month of December that they might be slick; which they told me probably was good as the air bag didn’t explode. In talking to the dispatcher she asked several times if I was okay, I am sure the shocked sound of my voice made her question me and asked even if my dog was okay as I had told her who was in the vehicle. I told her my concern was the deer and was suffering.  She assured me an officer would be there shortly. She assured me the officer would take care of everything. And she was correct! He came and asked if I wanted to go sit in his cruiser so I wouldn’t have to watch him euthanize the deer. The dispatcher had called a tow truck. It wasn’t till later that facing the damage of my vehicle came to mind. 

As thoughts began reviewing in my mind, through all the stress I realized that God was with me through it all. He never left my side and he had others there to comfort me and guide me.  

Lori Hood

Monday, January 7, 2019

Earth Care

“You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the Lord dwell among the Israelites.” Numbers 35:34

The New Year is traditionally known as a time to evaluate what God has led us to do and be. It can be a time to discern where God is leading us now and in the future. We can respond with fear or search for ways to move forward with purpose and hope following God’s direction. 

I read the headline, “Urgent: Escalating Climate Crisis Poses Rising Threats Across U.S.” I can spend my energy denying that it is true. I can ignore an alarming report that “the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country.” I can close my eyes and ears to the National Climate Assessment, collaboration of 300 experts including 13 governmental agencies – whose report concludes, “the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming.” The group states, “Without significant action, climate-related threats to our health, the environment, and the economy will only continue to mount.”*

The song reminds us, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. ** Similarly, World Wildlife Fund lists ten simple things we can do to protect the earth. For example, put on a sweater rather than turn up the heat in winter rather than burning more fossil fuels – conserve resources and reduce climate change. Drive less by planning our trips around town.  Take reusable bags to the grocery store rather than using paper or plastic bags. Of course, this is only taking the first steps to impact climate change.  If we are already doing these simple things, there are others such as picking up litter to clean up our earth. 

Start at home, and then consider how we as a church can take steps to conserve resources. Then voice your concerns to your government representatives. One person joining with others can make a difference. My “African Wisdom for Life” calendar on December 29, as I write this states “If you want a better tomorrow, be good today.” Zambian proverb. Does this apply to climate change?  

God created a world full of wonder. We are commanded to care for it. What is God calling you and me to do to protect God’s creation? Through praying and searching the Scriptures, God will reveal where we fit into God’s plan.

Prayer: God, remind us to do your work and do good in response to your love for us. Amen. 

* Quotes taken from Audubon.

**Song written by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller in 1955.

Lois Poppe

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Ache of Grief

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. Lamentations 3:31-33

I called on your name Lord, from the depths of the pit. To hear my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” Lamentations 3:55-57

This winter has been incredibly difficult for our family. We have lost close friends, lifelong church leaders, and family. So many tears have been cried and it feels as though everything reminds us of those now missing from our life on earth. In times like these, it is easy to question God and also to look at our experiences with those who have been lost with regret. Why that person God, they had so much to offer, so much promise? Why didn’t I tell them how much they meant to me? Why didn’t I call or write more often? 

In addition to dealing with our own grief we have been trying to help and support other friends and family and have had to work on the essential tasks after loss. Sorting items for donations, planning the services, picking out music, finding a pianist, getting a location, trying to give others a chance to say goodbye. Finding the right balance between leaving someone to grieve and letting them know that they are loved and thought of is so complicated, and delicate.   

We recently attended the most lovely prayer service and I allowed all that grief to wash over me. After the last of the prayers and songs, we ushered out quietly and I felt a tremendous sense of relief. I had prayed fervently to help others deal with the loss, to bring peace for myself and to assure that those that we had lost were safe in God’s arms. After all the tears and sadness I finally felt like I could try to break free of the grief and celebrate Christmas with our loved ones. There were still a few tears on Christmas Day, but the grief seemed more manageable, and less pervasive. I know that so many losses will take time to get over, and that we will continue to recognize the absences in our lives in different moments. I know that grief will sneak up from time to time, and that I can cry and pray, and reach out to God but hopefully that all-encompassing ache of loss will be better.

Prayer: Creator God, we know that you are close to the brokenhearted and that you will support us in our suffering. Be with all of those who have experienced loss, help to comfort their hearts and bring peace to their lives. Amen

Christi Moock

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Words from Isaiah

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28b-31

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17