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

Wednesday, September 30, 2020


May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;

    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May he send you help from the sanctuary

    and grant you support from Zion.

May he remember all your sacrifices

    and accept your burnt offerings.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall,

    but we rise up and stand firm.

Lord, give victory to the king!

    Answer us when we call! ~(portions of) Psalm 20

Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

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 40:31

In two Eastridge groups recently, we were discussing the meaning of the word “hope” (Bistro Theology and my Wednesday morning bible study). Like the words “fear” and “joy”, meaning can lie within one’s interpretation, especially of scripture.

In his devotional New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp talks about biblical hope. Instead of just wishing for something, he defines biblical hope as “a confident expectation of a guaranteed result that changes the way you live.”

I like how he goes on to say that biblical hope is confident in the power, love, faithfulness, and wisdom of God, not dependent on our own qualities. “Because God is who he is and will never, ever change, hope in him is hope well placed and secure.”

Hope in Christ gives us strength and security. During this time of pandemic uncertainty, we can rest assured in Him.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for promising that you will be with us, no matter what happens. You have not promised us an easy life, a predictable tomorrow, or exemption from grief and pain. However, you have promised that you know what our future holds, and it is with You. Comfort us when we feel hopeless, and help us remember that You are in control. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Change and Consistency

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 

Change and consistency. That’s what 2020 has been all about for me! What things can I control and keep familiar? What changes do I want to initiate and control?  Of the changes beyond my control what do I like about this “new” socially distant world?  It is comforting to know that God is always with us. When I have gotten “fussy” about the changes to the act of worshipping I have found some comfort in thinking about what worship looked like 100 years ago, 200 years ago, 2000 years ago. 

I have especially wondered about how churches functioned during the 1918 influenza pandemic. While there were 6 million people with a home telephone by 1910 and there were certainly party lines; Zoom, Facebook Live, YouTube and Webex were certainly unimagined.  I have wondered about the HUGE cathedrals on the East Coast and if they used anything similar to our current efforts like keeping individuals physically separated and staying home when you were ill.  What would skipped aisles and family seating arrangements look like in a church that could accommodate 700 worshippers? Did the minister travel to homes?  Were there recordings of sermons? Did we use radio stations? Outdoor services? Deacons to spread the word to smaller groups?   

What about in 1820, when America was still young, and smallpox was a worldwide issue. The CDC reports that in the worst of times the mortality rate for smallpox was one in three infected. Would we be more serious about protecting ourselves and our community if the risk from COVID was that great?  Small churches were being built and groups gathered to worship. This would have been nearly 30 years before the telegraph and 50 before the telephone. Did ministers arrange for outdoor gatherings with appropriate social distancing? Did you bring a blanket or tablecloth to sit on to identify the space for your family? Did you stay home if you were ill and have a family member share the good news with you in your sick room?

Then I think about what things would have been like when Jesus was still on earth. When he was leading worship he asked for the sick to come forward. We are told in the Bible of his healing of those burdened with leprosy, which we now know as Hansen’s disease and are now aware is not spread from casual contact with others. I think of pictures of beautiful outdoor amphitheaters with stone and wood benches in ancient Jerusalem and wonder about other open air ways for the people to worship. Obviously a pandemic would not be a good time for the feeding of the 5,000.   

It has been hard to be apart from one another as a congregation. Worshipping independently from home feels unfamiliar. In some ways there are benefits. I can catch an Eastridge service live and then later in the day or on a different day hop on You Tube and hear my daughter in law’s sermon. With my Smart TV and my Smart Phone I can watch and listen to worship while I am doing other things. I might be cutting a quilt, or cleaning the house.  I can get dressed up or attend in my pajamas. I can mow the lawn right before the service and start listening from the shower. I admit, communion has been coffee and toast, instead of juice and bread. Even though I am alone, it is comforting to know that I am listening with others. This week we recorded our bell performance at the end of practice. We were able to have more than one “take” to record our pieces and we weren’t rushed to get in one last practice before the sanctuary filled up. It was nice but so different.      

Prayer: God who has watched us on this earth for so many years, we are fortunate to have so many ways to access your word. Help us to remember that there have always been times when it wasn’t easy for your people to gather in worship. Help us to maintain perspective and continue our efforts to protect one another and remain healthy. Amen.   

Christi Moock

Monday, September 28, 2020

Better Than New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Is. 43:19

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps.147:3

“He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecc. 3:11

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Is. 41:10

I heard the crash from the next room. My fears were confirmed as I peeked around the corner to find my favorite ceramic platter had fallen on the table. As I retrieved the two broken pieces, I reflected on the sweet gift from my sister and the happy events it had served, as I threw it away. Disappointed. Ruined. Then, I thought, perhaps with some super glue, it wouldn’t look too bad. So, out of the trash it came with hopes of restoration. The pieces fit back together nicely but the crack was still evident and right down the middle. No hiding it. I set it back on the easel but every time I walked by it, what did I see? The crack, front and center. As I lamented to my husband that is was flawed and useless and threatened to throw it out a second time, he gave me the nicest compliment. He said, “No! We must keep it! It reminds me of you! You try to see the best in people. Because of their brokenness, not in spite of it, you love and accept others as they are. You see beauty and value, where others see flaws. You work to mend hurts, bring people together, and extend forgiveness.” Well, I don’t know if I am deserving of such nice words but I know someone who is.     

Writer Debbie McDaniel shares this in a recent devotion. In Japan, they’ve made an art out of restoring broken things. An ancient practice called Kintsugi, meaning “golden joinery” or “to patch with gold,” is an age-old custom of repairing cracked pottery with real gold, not only fixing the break, but greatly increasing the value of the piece.

The heart of it all - turning what is broken into beautiful, cherished pieces, by sealing the cracks and crevices with lines of fine gold. Instead of hiding the flaws, Kintsugi artists highlight them, creating a whole new design and bringing unique beauty to the original piece. The pottery actually becomes more beautiful and valuable in the restoration process because, though it was once broken, it not only has history, but a new story.

While most normal repairs of broken things hide themselves, like nicely sealed super glue fixes, the usual intent is simply to make something “as good as new.” Yet the art of Kintsugi reinforces a profound belief that the repair can make things not only as good as they were before, but “better than new.”

Better than new. Soak that in for a moment.

There are lies out there that swirl around and whisper to your deepest soul in weak moments, when you’ve lost your grip, and things come crashing down. You feel the need to hide the scars. You feel like the brokenness has rendered you useless in life. You feel beyond repair this time. You feel tossed aside. Forgotten. Shamed. Rejected.

Yet God breaks through all that mess. You are never beyond healing. You are never too broken for restoration. You are never too shattered for repair. Don't be ashamed of your scars, of the deep crevices that line your soul, or the broken places of your life. They have an amazing story to tell.

We have a Healer. One who repairs; who can fit the broken pieces that no longer seem to fit right into a perfect design. God works, often behind the scenes, mending, fitting together, creating a better work of art, more than we ever dreamed possible. He makes all things beautiful. Especially in the broken. All from His grace. Jagged edges and all.

You are not just simply patched back together, as He secretly hopes the glue will stick this time. Your repair and healing is never intended to be invisible; but beautifully lined with shining grace through every scar and broken space. Gold filled crevices of our heart, now stronger, better, more beautiful than before.

We did keep our platter. It is still used for many happy occasions and is proudly displayed, on a sturdier base, now. It reminds us of the unconditional love and healing grace, that only God can provide. We pray, that as we realize the restorative love we have received in our own lives, let us ask God to soften our hearts and extend grace and encouragement, so that others might experience “better than new” life in Jesus Christ.

Lovingly submitted by Diane Worrell Eaton

(Click on photo to view larger)




Friday, September 25, 2020

The Power of Prayer

Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18:1

Lord teach us to pray. Luke 11:

Being on the prayer chain I have said to dozens of people in the church, “We are praying for you or your child or husband.” I’ve also had dozens of people thank me with a quiver in their voices for the prayers. Someone said to me the other day, “It was the prayers of this congregation that helped my baby get well.”

There are many different kinds of prayers...prayers of petition, prayers of thanks, prayers of confession, and prayers of praise. We need to include all kinds of prayer in our conversations with God.

A woman whose son was having brain surgery said that the boy had the best brain surgeon in the country. “But,” she said, “unless we have the prayers of those who care, we don’t feel like we have the whole team in the game. God needs us to be members of his team and we can only do that through communication with him every day."

Living a life without prayer is like building a house without nails. Prayer is releasing the energies of God. For prayer is asking God to do what we cannot do ourselves.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for listening to our foolish requests and for answering them. We thank you for being available to us every day. What a gift you have given us to be able to talk to you. May we remember to praise you, to confess our sins and to ask for your forgiveness. May we remember that prayer shouldn’t always be about asking for something. Amen.

Gerry Draney (in memory of Gerry...reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotion book, 2008)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

God's Strength

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29 (NIV) 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (NIV) 

At the height of COVID 19 hospital admissions, “Kelly” a young RN, had worked a double shift, as they were so short on staff. Kelly was exhausted and looking forward to going home and getting some sleep. Then her supervisor informed her that an elderly patient likely would not survive overnight. Because of COVID 19, none of his loved ones were allowed to be with the elderly patient. Kelly decided to be with him and hold his hand so he would not be alone. When Kelly’s supervisor told the man’s loved ones, they were touched and grateful that Kelly stayed with him as he passed. I have heard of similar stories from my relatives from coast to coast. 

Ordinary people have found ways to help others during the pandemic. In Omaha, two neighbors decided to organize an effort to sew 10,000 mask covers for area hospital personnel during the coronavirus.  More than 600 volunteers signed up in just a few hours after a story about the effort ran in the Omaha World-Herald.  So many volunteered, they had to tell people they couldn’t help on the first project. A total of nearly 2,400 people found their Facebook page, Nebraska Masks for Medicine. All have kept busy. Members of the group helped sew more than 140,000 masks and mask covers. They also produced 3,600 surgical caps, 200 surgical isolation gowns, 500 face shields, and 1,000 ear savers. They organized fabric, elastic cutters, sewers, kit assemblers and drivers who helped pick up and drop off kits and supplies.

More recently, I learned of a team of nurses, respiratory therapists and a doctor who worked through the night to care for 19 tiny babies as Hurricane Laura slammed southwest Louisiana. The babies, some on ventilators or eating through feeding tubes, survived the storm in the neonatal intensive care unit at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women. Hours before Hurricane Laura made landfall, the staff had to move the babies from the women’s hospital to the main hospital after it became clear that the storm surge could inundate the women’s hospital. The nursing staff cared for the babies that in some cases were born weighing only a pound or two. Some of the nursing staff lost their houses in the storm but put their concerns aside to care for their tiny patients.  

Each of us can help in some way during difficult times. We can pray for those who choose to serve in extraordinary ways. We can be grateful that God is with us and with all those who need God’s strength.                             

Prayer: Dear God, remind us that with your strength, we can serve others at all times. Amen.

Lois Poppe

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. It stopped but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes and I heard a hushed voice: ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth! Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed they perish forever. Are not the cords of their tent pulled up, so that they die without wisdom?’ Job 4:15-21

Five years ago, when our Eastridge Ladies Night Out group was in its infancy, we decided to go on the Lincoln Ghost Tour lead by Scott Colborn.  We received special permission from the ministers and we assured everyone it was not a church sanctioned event. Just a group of ladies going on a bus tour offered to the community. Part history lesson, part scary story, a mix of interesting facts and puzzling hearsay. We drove past spaces with unexplained sightings and heard Scott’s theory that if a spirit/soul doesn’t move on to the next phase/place that they would spend their time in places where they enjoyed life and definitely not a cemetery. This could be their home, or Memorial Stadium, or their favorite walking trail.   

I knew Scott Colborn for years before taking the tour. He was a longtime owner of “The Way Home”, a new age/metaphysical store in southwest Lincoln. Scott loved to talk about all the possibilities in the world. When we first met, he didn’t follow any specific spiritual or religious path but was fascinated by studying all of the world’s religions and he could discuss theology with scholars of any level. If you listened to KZUM you might hear his thoughts about UFOs, ghosts, government conspiracy and opportunities for world peace. Sadly, Scott passed away in March of 2020, very unexpectedly and not from COVID. Because of the large number of ties that remain in the community and the limitations of the pandemic, his family hasn’t had his service yet.  At the end of his life he was attending a Presbyterian church in Lincoln. 

In August, I took my mom to the Beach Boys concert at Pinewood Bowl. When we got home that night I told my husband, if I didn’t know Scott was dead I would have SWORN that I saw him at the show. As the end of summer drew near we talked more about those times when you feel like you saw someone that is no longer alive, or felt something. I wondered if there were moments that our minds showed us something, or identified a scent, or color, or experience to help us remember someone that we had needed as a coping mechanism. Times that we cannot explain, that we may think are supernatural or against all scientific explanation but that lead us to feel that the line between life and death is somehow less veiled. The presence of angels maybe. I can’t explain those moments, but I know that Scott would have loved to talk about them, and share his research, and help me consider the reason that I wanted to see him that day. 

Prayer: Mysterious creator, our human experiences are sometimes unfathomable and unable to be explained.  Help us to take these experiences and carry them with us, even in times that we cannot understand their meaning.  Amen.   

Christi Moock   

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Scripture says Black Lives Matter

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them“ Genesis 1:27  

Jarvis Williams, a black Christian pastor who writes for Christianity today, states that this passage affirms that black lives are created in the image of God.  “Black Lives Matter” is based on a spiritual truth about black people.

“The Lord our God does not tolerate injustice, partiality...“ 2 Chronicles 19:7

Or injustice, disrespect, lack of dignity, prejudice.   God hates racism.  We must eradicate it.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel:16:7

This does not mean to be color blind. God loves color! Look at our colorful world! Each person has much inner value. Let’s get to know folks inside and out.

“As believers in our Lord must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance.” James 2:1   

“The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself”. Galatians 5:14 

Treat everyone with dignity and respect, just as we want to be treated. 

Many recent and tragic events in the United States involving African Americans have put systemic racism front and center and there is no turning back. We need to be unsettled, frustrated, startled and unnerved to action by the new “in our face truths”.  We cannot turn our backs, be complacent or ignore the realities of black people in our country. Jobs, education, health care, safety are all negatively impacted for black people. 

In June, Eastridge’s Outreach Committee sent out a 21-day Equity Habit Building Challenge.  The readings and videos were very informative and I highly recommend them as a way to learn more about the reality of white privilege, and systemic racism. They tend to unsettle your conscience and lead you to do better.  We need to be a bit uncomfortable in our white skin. 

Prayer: Father God, author of all love and mercy, send comfort to us in our time of frustration and unrest at the state of racism in our Country.  Guide each of us to dig deep to discover our own solutions to the problem and to follow your Word.  Please guide our leaders to make positive decisions that will effect real change and will end violence and ensure that all of us have a fair chance in all matters.

Connie Barry

Monday, September 21, 2020

Visio - Divina: Genesis 32 (sermon September 20)

Many of us are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, or holy reading. This practice involves reading a text many different times without searching for anything.

It commonly looks like this: finding a comfortable seat; taking a moment or two to find your focus and clear your mind (a popular way is to close your eyes and focus on your breath); pray for openness to “hear” new things in the given text; read the text several different times, pausing in between; notice (without judgment) things you may not have heard before - maybe a word, image, or detail; ask yourself if this changes the text or story, what it might say to you today, and/or why that mined nugget is important. 

  • What do you see? What is most striking to you about this piece?
  • What parts of the image are your eyes most drawn to, and what parts did you quickly brush by?
  • If you could stand in this scene, where would you stand and why?
  • What emotions emerge for you when you observe this painting?
  • What primary emotion would you assign to the person/subjects portrayed in the painting and why? 
  • Do you identify with the artist’s reflections? How does hearing the artist’s statment influence how you see the art? 
  • How is the imagery cohesive with the scripture? 
  • If you were to paint this text, what imagery, colors, and details might you include? 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Oh, what a headache!

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:8-10

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

I find as events and activities start to pick up I feel more stressed.  It was so quiet and nowhere to go and I was upset when I couldn’t get out to see my friends and fun activities. Then it seemed as stores, hairdressers, schools and churches all start to allow events I am finding myself overwhelmed. It isn’t as if there are that many additional activities to go to, or more work hours in a day than we had it the past years. What is it?  I thought about it and I feel it is the planning that seems overwhelming, do I need a mask, do I need plastic gloves, do I need sanitizer, do I need wet wipes, take along extra trash bags, and can we all go at the same time, do we need to sign a release to get into the appointment, can we all sit together and anyone feeling poorly speak up!  I am exhausted at the thought of just going anywhere, excited to be out, but exhausted in the planning.  And I might admit that staying at home I did complete tasks that I may have avoided for a while since I was so busy going out and working. Did I waste the time I had at home? Did I truly appreciate the fact I could spend more time at home? Or do I just not appreciate what I have until it is no longer available?

I find that is true in everything in life. Do we truly appreciate what we have and look at the positive of the current or are we always looking for what we are missing or what is wrong with our lives?  I tell myself I have to listen more to God and not so much to the rest of the world. The old saying is a good saying “Count your blessings”. 

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, Thank you for all I have even when I fail to appreciate it. Open my eyes to see what I have instead of wishing for something I think I need. Help me to enjoy the changes before me in my life that they are the way of preparation and guidance to lead me to safety. Help me to embrace others that I may see their needs before my own. Thank you for my many blessings. Amen

Lori Hood

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Spiritual Practice of Visio-Divina: Holy Seeing

Many of us are familiar with the practice of lectio divina, or holy reading. This practice involves reading a text many different times without searching for anything.

It commonly looks like this: finding a comfortable seat; taking a moment or two to find your focus and clear your mind (a popular way is to close your eyes and focus on your breath); pray for openness to “hear” new things in the given text; read the text several different times, pausing in between; notice (without judgment) things you may not have heard before - maybe a word, image, or detail; ask yourself if this changes the text or story, what it might say to you today, and/or why that mined nugget is important. 

As we continue in this year’s Narrative Lectionary - looking at the whole narrative of the Biblical texts, we’d like to invite you to practice not only the lectio divina, but also the visio divina, or holy seeing, each week.  The texts we will hear on Sunday’s are rich texts both in word and image.  Practice of the visio divina is similar to the lectio divina. Again, it looks like this: finding a comfortable seat; taking a moment or two to find your focus and clear your mind (a popular way is to close your eyes and focus on your breath); pray for openness to “see” new things about the story in the given image; open your eyes and contemplate the image several different times; notice (without judgment) things you may not have considered before; ask yourself if this changes the text or story, what it might say to you today, and/or why that mined nugget is important.

This week’s text (September 13) is the story of Abraham Sacrificing Isaac, found in Genesis 22.  


The picture is Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern, 1860.  In Sunday’s chat, Pastor Thomas mentioned the picture Bible he viewed as a child, where he first became aware of this Biblical text.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him;   for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

I went to my collection of “Children’s Moments” books for an inspiration for a devotion and found one to adapt for today.  Visualize two books in a bookstore, one book has a colorful cover and is blank inside.  The other book has a plain cover and is colorful inside. If you saw these two books, which one would you choose to bring home and read? People are just like the two books. Our outside appearance does not always show what is inside. Sometimes people that are beautiful on the outside are not so nice on the inside and sometimes people who are not so beautiful on the outside might be very nice. You cannot judge a book by the cover and you can’t tell what someone is like on the inside by looking at their outside. God cares about the way we are on the inside—character, if we are mirthful and full of love. God does not care what kind of clothes we wear or how we fix our hair. What matters is how beautiful we are on the inside. We should not be worried about how people look, but getting to know how they really are on the inside.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to not judge others by appearance, but look at their heart and character. Amen.

Susan Taylor (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotional Book, 2008)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Old Age

"Even to your old age and gray hairs

       I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

       I have made you and I will carry you;

       I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

                                                Isaiah 46:4

This verse comes to mind each year around my birthday.  I can’t deny that I’ve reached “old age.” And since I haven’t been to my hairstylist for six months, I can’t hide my “gray hairs.” 

However, the verse reminds us that no matter how old we are or how gray our hair gets, God is there. It is He who sustains us. He made us and carries us. Indeed, He rescues us. It is so easy to forget that during stressful times. We’ve experienced a lack of control over so many things, when we want to be in control of everything. If we need to be rescued, we try to figure out how to do it ourselves. Or we call on friends or family for assistance. 

It’s important to remember that we need to rely on God. He’s there for us and willing to help us. He’s willing to have a relationship with us. But a relationship cannot be one-sided—it requires that two parties work together. No matter how far into “old age” we get or how many “gray hairs” we have (or try to cover up), God is there for us.

Prayer: Dearest Lord, we thank you for your sustenance and your acting as our rescuer. Forgive us for trying to take charge of everything ourselves and failing to nurture our relationship with you. Help us to appreciate all we have been given, now and into “old age.”

Robin Hadfield

Monday, September 14, 2020

Psalm 16

Keep me safe, my God,

    for in you I take refuge.

 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16

Friday, September 11, 2020

Laughing Helps

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

My sister & husband, brother & wife and my husband & I met with my nephew that farms the land our parents left for us. The crops looked beautiful. The prices of corn and soybeans are not at all good. The taxes are still very high. The pandemic has kept us apart.

So, my sister and her husband decided to lighten up the end of the meeting on my brother’s patio by showing us the card and singing they planned for their friends' 50th wedding anniversary. They started out reading and very often sang the first line of songs written in the 50s and 60s that we all encountered when we were young.


Pretty Woman

Hey there Lonely Girl

Walk like a Man

The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind

Our Day Will Come if we Just Wait a While

She wore Blue Velvet (She actually wore red velvet)

Happy Together

If I were a Carpenter and you were a Lady, Would you Marry me Anyway, Would you Have my Baby

Dancing in the Street

He’s so Fine, I know he is Mine

I Only Want to be with You

The Sugar Shack

They hadn’t Lost That Lovin Feelin', Oh That Lovin Feelin'

The love between the couple being honored and the fun of hearing these melodies again made us all laugh. I could see smiles, hear some singing along, and saw joy on everyone’s face.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I am sure it makes you feel joy too when a group breaks out in fun and laughter. Thank you for those times, especially during this pandemic when we don’t often meet together in person. Thank you for those who reach 50 years of marriage. Please be with us to spread happiness and joy. Help us to have genuine love and see more and more marriages last 50 years. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Thursday, September 10, 2020

I Wish

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:24-25 (NIV)

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. Galatians 5:24-25 (The Message)

During these times of quarantine, many of us have had more hours than usual to fill.  I hate to admit it, but I spent too much time watching a Netflix series called “Selling Sunset.”  It’s all about real estate salespeople in the Hollywood area.  The homes they’re selling range from $3 million to $40 million.  It would be easy to watch the series and find yourself wishing that you could have a house like that.  There was an article in the Lincoln Journal Star recently about a house in this area that is for sale for $3.5 million.  Again, some people probably look at that and wish they could afford that house, which has a basketball court and a stage for musical performances. 

We’ve all probably found ourselves at one time or another saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if [fill in the blank--I had a new car, or a new house, or money to travel.]” It’s easy in our commercial culture to get caught up in wanting something because our friends have it. Many people feel the need to buy the latest gadget, like a new smartphone, or fashions with a designer logo, like Ralph Lauren. And we may enjoy showing off those items to our friends.

But the scripture tells us not to become conceited or to envy others. If we give it some thought, a majority of us would realize we have everything we truly need. Each of us is an original.  God has provided for us, and yet we often want more. Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of wishing for something more, we gave thanks for all we have? 

Prayer: Dear God, You have provided for us and satisfied all our needs. Forgive us for frequently wishing for more. Help us to make our wish to be more like you. Amen.

Robin Hadfield

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Faith and Fear

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 victorious right hand. Isaiah 41: 10

 When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56: 3-4

I find it relaxing and a burst to my creativity to do adult coloring. The page I completed last night said--”Let your faith be bigger than your fear”. (I have looked up the author of this, but it is unknown and many variations exist). I thought about all the times in the Bible where people could be afraid in the Old Testament like Moses’ mother leaving him in the bulrushes, Daniel in the Lion’s den, and the three men in the fiery furnace. The New Testament also shows times of fear with disciples out in the boat with high winds, Paul being stoned, beaten, and imprisoned, and the terrible persecution of the early believers. With the COVID virus pandemic, there are many ways people can be afraid now. Afraid to go to the hospital, afraid to send the kids to school or to college, afraid to go out in the community, afraid of people who might be infected. Think about what you are afraid of and then remember to let your faith be bigger than your fear—trust God to take care of you. Ask His wisdom in making your decisions for safety and your health. Matthew 14:27 says: Take heart, it is I; have no fear.

Prayer: Heavenly Father—help us remember our faith in you during troubling times. As the Bible so often reminds us—Take heart, have no fear, trust God and he will strengthen you, help you, and uphold you. Amen

Nancy Hall


Tuesday, September 8, 2020


Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” Genesis 1:11  

When I came across this Bible verse, I smiled to myself and thought about the vegetation in our yard.  We have a big garden, and though Jim is the master gardener, I am the assistant, and I get to weed as well as preserving and using all the things the garden provides.  I am amazed at the growth of the vegetation, some of it vegetables, fruits and flowers, but much of it what I call weeds.  As I was weeding our asparagus bed a couple of days ago, I pulled out grasses taller than myself.   I didn’t want them there at all, but was astounded at the size and growth rate of those grasses and thankful that we have the soil, sun and water to grow such vegetation. We live in an area of the country and world where God has brought forth goodness and plenty for us.  

Right now, we are struggling with the pandemic, isolation, work, food and children who must learn remotely or at school, but under difficult circumstances.  But with all these challenges, we are still blessed by the gifts God has given us.  Let us thank God for our many blessings.

Prayer: Our Father, may we never forget the blessings you have provided for us, and the ability to use them to help all your children. Lead us to ways of giving to others in our church and community.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Carolyn Brandle

Friday, September 4, 2020

Psalm 111

Praise the Lord.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord;

    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
  Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
  He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
  He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

  He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
  The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
  They are established for ever and ever,
    enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
  He provided redemption for his people;
    he ordained his covenant forever—
    holy and awesome is his name.

  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111

Thursday, September 3, 2020


So make yourself an ark of cypresswood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out...Noah did everything just as God commanded him…The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation”… And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him ...Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth." Genesis 6:14, 22-7:1, 5-9:1 

I read the story of Noah this week and had a new appreciation for the guy.  Think of all the courage it took to do what the Lord commanded him in spite of the lack of a certain plan.  Most certainly his neighbors, and perhaps his family, were laughing at him the whole time. And those days on the water, stuck inside, in a boat with all those animals and cranky people? 

We have all felt a little bit that way recently. We certainly don’t know what the future holds, but we’re trying to trust what we hear. Whether we’re wearing masks or not, staying inside or not, people are pointing fingers and questioning our judgement. We’re doing our best with the knowledge we have, but we’re not sure what’s right. We’re staying the course. And in the end, we will get the chance to “repopulate” our lives. What will you restart? What will you let go? How will you reframe the future you? Will you be more cautious? More adventurous? Show more kindness? 

One thing is sure. God is in control, and no acts or experience done from the goodness in our hearts will ever be wasted. Scripture promises us that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) God will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.

Prayer:  Sometimes, Lord, it’s just hard. It’s hard to know who to trust. It’s hard to know what to do. It’s hard when people don’t do things the way I do them.  When I’m losing my patience, feeling angry, or just confined, help me to think like Noah and find hope.  And when I get to do whatever I want to, please fill my mind with fruitful and generous thoughts.  Amen 

Lori Snyder-Sloan

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Make A Joyful Noise

 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;

    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

Praise the Lord with the harp;

    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

Sing to him a new song;

    play skillfully, and shout for joy.

                                    Psalm 33:1-3

It’s been a loooong six months since we’ve been able to worship in the sanctuary.  While we’ve had music as part of the livestream services, we haven’t been able to enjoy live music.  Today we were able to see the Chancel Choir as it virtually sang together.  From home, each choir member rehearsed and sang the hymn with a recording of the accompaniment.  The video of the hymn was sent to Dr. Brian Lew, who edited it together.  It’s rather amazing to see what can be done with the right software and someone who is talented in using the software. 

I have many memories of wonderful music at Eastridge, from the Carol Choir, which was for children in first, second, and third grades, singing for the Easter Sunrise service, to all choirs joining together to sing “O Holy Night” on Christmas Eve and “The Palms” on Palm Sunday.  We are fortunate now to have Brian as the music director and Brent Shaw as the extremely talented organist.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no live music in the sanctuary for an extended period of time.  It’s been shown that singing can be responsible for the spread of the virus through the air. 

Some people attend worship for the sermon and liturgy, and others attend for the music.  Music has the power to move people, to touch people, and to reach people. Whether it’s the melody of an old familiar hymn or the words of a contemporary praise song, music impacts our worship. It provides another way for us to turn our hearts and minds to God and to thank Him for our blessings.  So, until we can be together in person again, give thanks that we have other ways to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Sing along with the hymns at home.  And pray that we can be together soon!

Prayer: Dearest Lord, thank you for your gift of music. It lifts us up and offers us encouragement. We pray that we may use this gift to praise you and to worship you in all your glory.  Amen.

Robin Hadfield


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Home for the Sparrow

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow  a nest for herself, where she may have her young, a place near your altar. Psalm 84:3

Outside my back door grows a butterfly bush.  It stands tall, covered with unexciting white flowers but---only two or three days after it begins to bloom it literally teems with fluttering wings of many species of butterflies.  If you have never believed in a Supreme being, you will after sitting awhile and watching the miracles of God's world.

Many people speak mournfully of this period in our lives. The darkness of racial disparity, of sickness, of deaths without much closure, of being alone, of missing friends and family and many other complaints. But quoting from Arundahi Roy, "We can chose to walk through this period dragging the carcasses of our prejudice...Or we can walk through lightly with little luggage, ready to imagine another world..."

So, maybe we need to stop and name the birds flying by, count the many butterflies, watch the young bunny nibble a marigold, report the huge spider on the screen and count each day we are also alive and well.

Prayer:  Lord be with us today and every day.  Lift our hearts with hope and help us to look forward to each day we live and work in your world.  Amen

Carolyn Olsen