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

Friday, October 30, 2020

Times of Tribulation

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

This week marks 23 years since the 1997 snowstorm.  Lincoln had more than a foot of snowfall, trees hadn’t yet shed their leaves and there were major power outages and damage throughout the city.  While it was certainly a disaster and a tribulation, people still love to talk about their memories from that event.    

We stayed at my mom’s, camped out on the floor with sleeping bags and comforters.  My grandmother was still alive then and she was so funny.  During the day, it was easy to forget that we didn’t have power, the house would warm from the sun and meals baked in the oven, we went to the laundry mat once they had their power restored and I called our home phone number a few times a day to see if the answering machine would pick up (evidence of power!).  One neighbor had a generator so every night we would go over to their house to watch the 6pm news and then come back and play cards by lantern until we were too tired (or too cold) to stay up any longer.   

At work we heard stories about who had gotten which utilities back, and creative ways that people were managing; showering at the hospital, making coffee with a camping percolator on a propane grill, digging small tunnels in snow banks for refrigeration.  I remember seeing all the electrical trucks from out of state who came to Lincoln to give LES a hand in getting everyone restored.  That storm changed so many company emergency response plans, and the timing that they determined was needed for emergency generators and how often organizations had power outage drills.  A small number of people had cell phones and all cellular plans were still “by the minute” pricing so if you worked for a company that had a switchboard outage you may have handed off your cell phone with a verbal agreement that your minutes would be paid for by the company.    

What a tribulation and adventure. Certainly an inconvenience.  Halloween was CANCELLED.  But now, 23 years later checking in with people it is still lovely to hear the stories of how we made it without technology, or heat, or hot water, in some neighborhoods for an entire week.   

Prayer: God who knows all the conveniences we have been offered, thank you for watching over us in times of emergency, tribulation and disaster.  While this was a challenging time for our community we endured and became stronger.  As we prepare for a winter and holiday season impacted by the inconveniences of COVID help us to remember the times that we have endured and overcome in your love and support.  Amen

Christi Moock

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Psalm 65

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.

 You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.
 Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.

 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,

 who formed the mountains by your power,
    having armed yourself with strength,
 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    and the turmoil of the nations.

 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy.

 You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.

 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;

you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
1You crown the year with your bounty,
    and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
    the hills are clothed with gladness.
 The meadows are covered with flocks
    and the valleys are mantled with grain;
    they shout for joy and sing. Psalm 65

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Stop His Lies in Their Tracks

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:11-12  (NIV) 

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV) 

Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:43-44   (NIV) 

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4a  (NLT) 

My heart is hurting for our country. There's so much complaining and quarreling, so much finger-pointing, so much hate...especially now, with the election drawing near.  The devil, who's “a liar and the father of lies” is to blame.  He “schemes”, he “blinds the minds of unbelievers”, he “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”.  He's sneaky, and uses a variety of tactics to divide us and pull us away from God.  He finds ways to get in our heads and feed us lies when we're most vulnerable (ie stressed, tired, sick).  He hopes we'll latch onto those lies (about ourselves or someone else)--and let our emotions run away with us.   

I believe he often uses the media as his weapon.  I've seen various media outlets put their own spin on a story...or maybe even post “fake news”.  It seems they want to raise our ire, make it “interesting” or sway our beliefs on certain issues.  In fact, Jim Kuypers, a professor of Communication at Virginia Tech University, has done extensive research on how the media “frames” news stories.  This “framing” may make us jump to conclusions, gossip, or post angry and accusing comments on social media...adding fuel to the fire and widening the division between political parties, our neighbors and fellow Americans.  

Sadly, we've all been affected by the divide that's been created in our country.  We must  consider this: "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." (Mark 3:24-25)  We must stop his lies in their tracks by immediately recognizing them, and counteracting them with God's Truth.  And if ever we're not sure what the Truth is, we should ask God to reveal it to us.  

Obviously, we don't (and won't) all think alike on certain issues. But maybe we could just agree to disagree?  I'm aware there are injustices to be righted, but we must carefully consider how we go about righting them.  We should: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:2-3)  I firmly believe, if we don't live by this scripture, it matters little who wins this election. 

Prayer: God of Truth, forgive us for latching onto the lies the devil feeds us.  Help us to “be alert and of sober mind” so we can “resist him, standing firm in the faith.”  Please bring unity to our divided country, Lord.  Amen. 

Sharon Irvin


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Crossing the Jordan

Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. Joshua 3

Monday, October 26, 2020


God that made the world and all things therein…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. Acts 17:24, 26

Every word of God is pure…Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Proverbs 30:5-6

Days of Praise pamphlet by Dr. Henry Morris III states, “The biblical record is full of testable historical and archaeological data, unlike the sacred texts of other religions. Wherever such historical information is cited, the data has proven to be precise and trustworthy. It has been subjected to the minutest scientific textual analysis possible to humanity and has proven to be authentic in every way. The Bible has been a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify ancient figures such as Sargon, Sennacherib, Horam of Gezer, Hazar and the nation of the Hittites.”

The statue of Standing Bear, a famous Indian warrior in Nebraska stands at Centennial Mall in Lincoln. This man stated long ago that his blood runs red just like people of all other nations. According to the verse above in Acts, that God made all nations of one blood and Standing Bear’s comment, we should all realize we are all humans made specifically by God. He even determined when and where we would live.

When we believe the words of God are pure we know all are made and loved by God. We, as humans, should Love One Another as His greatest commandment states. If we could do that, there would be no racism and no men ending lives of others.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Friday, October 23, 2020

Under God's Shelter



“they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.

‘Never again will they hunger;

    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
    nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne

    will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”           

                                                 ~ Revelation 7:15-17

Thursday, October 22, 2020

May her memory be for blessing

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11 

So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God, even as I try to please everyone in every way.  For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:31 

We all get the chance, every day, to consider what our life will be about.  The Westminster Catechism tells Christians that our chief end is to “glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” In other words, the glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. 

Some information shared after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg shares some perspective on what the Jewish saying of "May her memory be for blessing," means. I think there’s a message for all of us as we ponder the season of our lives.  Since Jewish tradition does not focus on the afterlife, the goal of righteousness is not with the idea of an eternal reward. Being a good human to others, promoting justice and peace are their own rewards. The pursuit of justice is one of the highest callings of Judaism.  Justice is not the same as vengeance or punishment or charity.  While charity is good, eliminating the need for charity is better.  A high form of righteousness is where both the giver and the receiver are unknown to each other, allowing the recipient to have dignity and the giver to be free from personal motivation and reward. In other words, we should help create a more just world for the benefit of people we don't know, without the expectation of praise, gratitude, or reward, in this life or the next. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life was lived with constant effort to create a more just world that would perpetuate equality and access. So saying "may her memory be for blessing" the blessing implied is this: May you be like Ruth.  Jewish thought teaches that it is up to those who bear her memory to keep her goodness alive, carrying on her legacy of pursuing justice, righteousness, and sustainability. (credits to Molly Conway for these viewpoints) 

As Christians, we learn a lot from the Jewish tradition, and this is one of the beliefs that can inform the choices we make each day to glorify God. It certainly is in keeping with the teachings of Jesus.  In this season, we face so many opportunities every day to choose kindness or hate, generosity or self-focus, sensitivity or attack, peace or argument. We can have and share opinions without being disagreeable.  May her memory be for blessing. May our lives glorify God. 

Prayer:  Lord, I frequently lose sight of the fact that the main goal of my life is to glorify you and not myself, my family, my employer, or any other body.  Thank you for those leaders who illustrate, by example, my life verse from Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” May all I do glorify you.  Amen

Lori Snyder-Sloan

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

It has been a long and arduous week. Long shifts, many responsibilities, many additional tasks received, many concerns to address.  A week where I feel overwhelmed and am afraid that I cannot do my work well. I am sure that other people get these weeks, maybe more often, maybe less often, but I am certainly in good company.   

Being overwhelmed leaves me feeling helpless and frustrated. I know everyone responds to frustration differently. I have been so frustrated that a few tears have slipped out. I have been so frustrated that I have snipped at people I care about. I have been so frustrated that I have wanted to simply curl up and ignore the hard work in the hopes that it will go away. These bad behaviors leave me feeling worse on top of the helplessness and frustration and I have to make time to step back and create a plan.   

This verse has helped me to make it to the end of the week. To stop before I snip or complain. To remember the people who love me. To remember that I receive assignments because I do good work (the reward for doing a good job is more work). To take the swirl of tasks and assignments and lay them out and prioritize them. To show love and ask forgiveness of the people who have gotten the short end of the stick this week.  

Prayer: God whose patience knows no limits, thank you for being with me in times of challenges. Thank you for giving me grace when I am not my best. Please help me to prioritize the tasks ahead of me and to make time for rest to renew my efforts.  

Christi Moock

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. Hebrews 10:23-25

We need hope and we need faith in this time of the 100-year, all nations of the world encompassing Coronavirus. We can find hope at:

But my eyes are fixed on you,

O Sovereign LORD;

In you I take refuge—do not give

Me over to death.

Keep me from the snares they have

Laid for me,

From the traps set by evildoers.

Let the wicked fall into their own nets,

While I pass by in safety. Psalms 141:8-10

We just need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. This virus may be with us for awhile but we can be careful, wear masks, interact with others outside and practice cleanliness.

Prayer: Oh, Father in Heaven, we ask that you be with our whole church, our whole community, and our nation at this time. Be with those who have lost loved ones and comfort those who are ill with the virus. Thank you for those who have safely passed through the illness. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck


Monday, October 19, 2020


On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul. Psalm 138:3

Courage is not always a matter of storming the enemy entrenchments in the face of deadly fire, although courage that most surely is. Sometimes courage is a matter of just "keeping on". With this kind of courage we are surrounded. There are the husbands and wives who have lost their life partners to death or divorce, who continue to be vital parts of the church and the community although they as individuals feel cropped of their most significant love and support. There are the victims of physical debilitation from either disease or age who continue to participate vigorously in the church, although physical movement is an increasing effort beyond the comprehension of those who are fit. There are those who grieve for loved ones whose mental or physical health is failing, but who maintain an unruffled countenance and bless us all with their good spirit and even-temperedness. There are those who have always made their way alone in the world, who as part of the church family inspire the rest of us with their vision of service and faith. There are those whose jobs have disappeared in this time of economic disaster, but who maintain the even keel of their family, church, and community life in spite of personal terror for the future. As the years of our lives increase, we can also appreciate those for whom just "turning up" at church events, not participating in leadership, is an act of courage, when because of their physical or mental or emotional condition it would be ever so much easier to just stay home (or not participate online, editor's note for 2020!). Our church is richer for all these quietly courageous folk. 

Prayer: Father in heaven, we ask your blessing on all for whom just being, not doing, is an act of courage that can stem only from their strength of soul and faith in you. We ask your forbearance for us when we forget that there are many ways of serving you - including quiet ones. Amen. 

Ruth Ann Lyness (reprinted from the Eastridge Daily Devotional book, 2008)

Friday, October 16, 2020

Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our dwelling place

    throughout all generations.

Before the mountains were born

    or you brought forth the whole world,

    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,

    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

May your deeds be shown to your servants, 

    your splendor to their children.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;

    establish the work of our hands for us—

    yes, establish the work of our hands. ~ (portions of) Psalm 90

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Light into the World

I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness. John 12:46

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What Species?

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16  

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Matthew 5:13-16

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  Matthew 6:27                                                  

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25   

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  Matthew 6:31                                     

And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?  Luke 12:25                                                      

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

Recently a friend mentioned that some bird species I had photographed this summer are considered invasive. I struggled to understand the need to kill cute little sparrows, similar to those that nest just under the eaves here at Eastridge Presbyterian and near my backyard. This is because they might take away resources that other, more desirable (and, sometimes, native) birds need; I get it. I’m not completely against the idea of limiting the scope of invasive species, because, I admit, I am uncomfortable when I see those videos of Asian carp jumping into boats, seemingly by the thousands. Just google Asian carp and you will see what I mean. 

The word invasive means: (especially of plants or a disease) tending to spread prolifically and undesirably or harmfully. (When referring to species, invasive can also mean not native to an area).

I don’t think of humans themselves in this way, but maybe the actions of humans. Maybe our thoughts and plans become “invasive” when they affect others in a harmful way. Or: can negative thoughts become invasive in our lives? We may “worry ourselves sick” over something that is beyond our control, even when we understand that our best course of action might be prayer.

Instead of invasive, keystone species are creatures (like wolves, beavers, elephants) that exert disproportionate influence on the world around them. After reading an article in National Parks magazine about this concept, it occurred to me that it’s almost the opposite of invasive. The definition is: a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically. Think if we, as humans, tried to represent the keystone that God is in the lives of those with whom we come into contact. Borrowing from the actual definition of the word “keystone”: the central principle or part of a policy, system, etc., on which all else depends.

I like the dichotomy. Think of yourself as striving to become “keystone” instead of “invasive”.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to shine your light and influence others in a positive way. I want my thoughts to be on You and your word, not my own worries and obsessions. Calm my fears, and show me how to reach out to others and represent You in the world. I may not be a keystone, but I can represent You, who is the foundation “on which all else depends”. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

(photo of a house sparrow (invasive) taken at Eastridge Presbyterian Church and an elephant (keystone) taken at Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, DC, both by Donna)

Tuesday, October 13, 2020


He leads me to paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalms 23:3

“There is more than one way to get to Omaha”

I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa and the above phrase was very familiar to me. Literally, there were 2 highways to Omaha—one in Iowa and one in Nebraska. Conversing on this, there were usually footnotes on where the best places were to stop and have coffee or chili, the best road conditions, the cleanest bathrooms at gas stations,  and the fastest routes. As I have gotten older, I have recognized additional meanings to this phrase. There is more than one way to solve a problem. Many people can contribute with their skills to get to the communal goal. It is okay to take different paths for a positive result.

While I was in grade school, there was an uproar in town regarding the city’s libraries and a bookmobile. The city council planned to close several of the small neighborhood libraries and replace them with a used bookmobile. The argument was: it is cheaper to run a bookmobile than pay multiple salaries and do the upkeep on the buildings, and the bookmobile could go to many neighborhoods (poor) where people could not get to a library. If you wanted a specific book, you could call ahead and the bookmobile could provide it to you. The city could have fewer librarians and save on the cost of salaries. The counter argument was: the current libraries were used extensively by the neighboring schools that did not have libraries in their buildings, the data showed that the libraries were used by many children and adults, there were more books available in the libraries along with resources than a bookmobile could supply, and the physical libraries were already paid for. The librarians were faithful city employees who would lose their jobs.  There was also the cost of buying a used bookmobile.  My mother was the head of my school’s PTA and the PTA supported keeping the libraries. We attended many city council meetings, signed petitions to keep the libraries, and looked at the success of bookmobiles in similar communities. Not everybody was happy with the end result, but we all survived. The city closed the little libraries and bought the bookmobile, but because of the communities' interest in solving the extended problems with the schools, a special fund was established to help the schools start their own libraries, there was a commitment to build new bigger regional libraries and a new central library with a much wider set of resources to the community, and library employees from the smaller libraries would not lose their jobs but would work in the bigger regional libraries. Plus, the city recognized these faithful librarians for their service to the community.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for all those who have helped provide our faith community with worship and fellowship opportunities, ongoing Bible studies, Christian education, music, running the day to day management of the church, writing devotions, and providing prayer shawls. Thank you for the mission commitments in our community and the world. Help us to remember that there are many roads to Omaha, and there are people with many skills who contribute to your church and the goal to praise you-- God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen 

Nancy Hall

Monday, October 12, 2020


How lovely is your dwelling place,

Lord of heavenly forces!

My very being longs, even yearns,

for the Lord’s courtyards.

My heart and my body

will rejoice out loud to the living God!

Yes, the sparrow too has found a home there;

the swallow has found herself a nest

where she can lay her young beside your altars,

Lord of heavenly forces, my king, my God!

Those who live in your house are truly happy;

they praise you constantly. Psalm 84:1-4

I share these verses, particularly verse 3. The key word is ‘found’. The Hebrew word for ‘found’ is “matza.”  It could be like the word for the unleavened bread called matza, but literally it means ‘found.’

I share this because of a memory that recently came to my mind about pets that my family had when I was growing up. We had two kittens that were given to us by some very dear friends who were Jewish. The two kittens were a totally grey kitten with white paws whom we called, “Mitzy” and a calico kitten named “Matza.”  The name for Matza was not given for Hebrew meaning, but just a neat mix with sister kitten, Mitzy and brother kitten Matza. 

Over time we sadly lost Mitzy due to some health issues, but Matza was our cat for years. That relationship was threatened when Matza was missing and we did not see him for a couple of days. We presumed the cat was killed by a wild animal since we lived in a housing area near some canyons where such animals could be found like foxes or birds of prey. 

Then, a wonderful discovery! My sister was riding her bicycle and rode past a water drain near an intersection a few blocks from home. She heard a very loud, mournful, “MEOW.”  It was Matza! He somehow fell into the water drain and was desperate to get out! My sister immediately stopped her bicycle and had to bend and stretch to reach down and get Matza. She came back home with our missing cat crying with great relief and Matza was purring excessively!   

That would be the end of the story for most folks. But it came back to me when I was taking Hebrew at Seminary for an intensive session. Within 4 weeks, we were translating Old Testament passages after memorizing vocabulary and learning Hebrew grammar. One trick in learning vocabulary was to think of a picture to associate a word. One word was ‘Matza’ meaning found. My picture was our cat being found, whose namesake in Hebrew means to be found. I shared that experience with our Jewish friends who gave us the cat and they were totally amused. 

Now what is being found mean for you and me? I like Psalm 84 for that very meaning. Verse 3 speaks of how the sparrows find their home in God’s house. We have been away from the church because of COVID 19, but  are gradually working back in a safe manner. We have had communion together and parking lot services together, but it is another opportunity for us to be “found” in a home church with our family of faith. 

Another very intimate picture of being found would be like the Good Shepherd whose flock is safe, but one lamb goes missing. He searches for the lamb and finds it. There is joy in heaven over the one lost sheep being found. 

Ok, it is not a sheep that was missing, but a cat our family deeply loved that was found, a cat named Matza. As Psalm 84:1-4 shares, so may we be found by our Good Shepherd and claim our home in God’s church where all creation is welcomed. 

Prayer:  Eternal and ever searching God, open our hearts to what has been missing that You may find.  Always may we find our home with You in Your family in the name of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Rev. Dr. John J. Duling, Parish Associate

Friday, October 9, 2020


Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.  Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17

I love the old Family Circus cartoons. I think if I went through boxes and bookshelves at my mom’s I would find that there are still a few books; you know, from the time before comic strips could be searched and enjoyed on the internet.  There were a few tied to the concept of accountability with a houseful of children.  Something is broken, missing, eaten, a door is left open, all the things that happen every day in real life. When the parents ask who it was each child is quick to respond “not me”.  In one of the cartoon strips there are “ghost” figures filling the role of “not me”, “must have been him” and “the dog did it”. 

I have recently been involved in an improvement process discussion in my department at work and it is an exercise that I have found to be very frustrating.  We have a tool that we use to take in new work. This might seem odd but it’s common in a variety of industries. Our Information Technology department of 100ish serves nearly 6000 end users, all of whom have an adjustment they would like made to the system. This becomes a challenge because the 6000 know what they don’t like but they may struggle to explain that to someone else.  Additionally, what happens if one of the 6000 doesn’t like something but the other 5999 do? 

We have worked for the last 3 years to develop a process that can be followed by the person requesting the change, the team(s) responsible to review it and determine if it is a good decision for all 6000 users and then a process for assigning the work to the IT representative to complete it.  On our improvement process calls there has been a lot of whining.  “The system is too hard”.  “The people don’t know what they are asking for”.  “When I meet with them to talk about their request they actually want something completely different”.   And my all-time favorite – “I have too much work to do to help them figure out what they want”.   

As I have thought about these meetings after the fact I have been annoyed. Sometimes angered. Disappointed. Of course there are processes at work that I don’t like, I might think they are overly time consuming, or antiquated, or even burdensome but they are a part of our work. When we are looking for an improvement I would love to see our focus be among the things that WE can do to help our end users and one another.  No more complaining about the mysterious “them” who always does half the job and leaves the rest for someone without telling them.  No more excuses about not knowing how to use the system as a reason that your work can’t be completed.  Would we accept the answer of someone not knowing how to work the cash register to keep us from buying something that we wanted?  Instead of all the complaining, a spin on what we can do as a team to actually create an improvement, not only for our customers but our peers and ourselves.  If we don’t like having things dumped in our lap at the last minute then we need to model what we do want – a phone call, e-mail or message to ask if something will impact another.  And when that happens, we cannot react with annoyance because we were asked, but instead with gratitude – thank you for checking – that would have broken my build, or that’s a great idea – I wonder if it will work for another problem I’m having. If you work in a large organization you might hear this expectation referred to as corporate culture. 

After my last meeting I needed lunch and a little time with scripture. I loved both of these verses and the messages. In reflection of this scripture I thought “I trust you to be faithful – in this case to the organization that works hard to provide for you and your family.  I want you to do this work with joy, and not groaning, because all of that whining is bad for everyone – including yourself.” 

Prayer: God who is with us always, help me to be patient with others and to reflect joy in what I do.  Help me to recognize opportunities when I can put a positive spin on something.  Help me to model what I expect of others.    

Christi Moock

Thursday, October 8, 2020


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 ESV

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 ESV

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. Psalm 104:19 ESV

I watched a video on Facebook about the naming of the seasons.  It referred to a similar article as below:

Why We Call Autumn "Fall" By Chelsey Grasso

November 2, 2016

Long before it was called "fall" or "autumn," the third season of the year was referred to as "harvest" in England. The season was given this name to reflect the time of year when farmers would gather their crops and prepare them for winter storage. The farms generally harvested their crops between August and November. The term "harvest" comes from the Old Norse word "haust," which means "to gather or pluck" — appropriate, considering the farm work during this time of year.

"Fall" And "Autumn" Emerged as Popular Terms Once More And More People Moved From Rural Areas To Cities

During the 1600s, more people began leaving rural farmlands to move into larger, metropolitan cities. Without farming, the term "harvest" became less immediately applicable to the lives of city-dwellers, and subsequently, "fall" and "autumn" emerged as two new names for the season. "Autumn" came from the Latin word "autumnus," with the root of the word having connotations regarding "the passing of the year." The term "fall" was likely a deviation from the Old English words "fiaell" and "feallan," both of which mean "to fall from a height." It is assumed that this new name for the season was inspired by trees' falling leaves.

During the 17th century, both "fall" and "autumn" rose to popularity in Britain, but it was the younger and "more poetic" term for the season that ended up crossing the seas and leading in the American English language. Subsequently, Britain ended up using "autumn" as their primary term for the season. While you'll still hear the word "autumn" used in America and "fall" used in Britain, you're much more likely to hear it the other way round.  

Then I looked up religious calendars and I saw the one on the left, which referred to the time as Ordinary time. Well, first of all, nothing in 2020 has been ordinary and every time of year to me is full of exciting changes in our lives. I have to admit most of the time the outdoor scenery is my favorite to admire of the creation that God has provided for us. There were so many descriptions and so many graphs there was no way I could include them in one devotion. When referring to the Bible for references on the seasons it was clear that I could not include all in this same devotion. 

There are the many seasons that God has provided for us and in all the seasons He is with us and given us eternity.  That no matter what season we are in we know He is there, He has a plan, He knows each of us individually and He knows our every need.  We need to enjoy each season and all its glory.  Thank God for the beauty and the splendor of each season.  We need to look for the blessings and not the down “falls” of each season.  There are many weather seasons and many life seasons but each is a gift from God that we must trust in Him.

Prayer: Thank you Father the seasons.  Thank you for always being by our side.  Encourage us to see the beauty and be thankful.  Amen

Lori Hood

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Our Gifts

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21     

This scripture passage has been sung as an anthem, probably many different ones by many composers. But when I sang in our church choir (First Presbyterian Church in St. Louis) as a youth and later as a young adult, we sang this anthem every year on Pledge Sunday in the fall. Our Minister of Music hoped it would encourage the congregation and membership to be even more generous in giving and pledging.  

I’ve been singing the words of this passage in my head repeatedly since receiving the letter about Eastridge Presbyterian’s need for extra dollars to continue the work of our church. I know this is a challenging time for all of us, but I hope that many of us are able to add to our usual donation and/or pledge to ensure the stability and survival of Eastridge Church, its pastors and staff and the community of love it provides.  

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for the many gifts you have given us.  With gratitude in our hearts, let us share those gifts as you would have us do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Carolyn Brandle  

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Word from Philippians

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 5-9

Monday, October 5, 2020

For God So Loved the World

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Friday, October 2, 2020

The God of Hope

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
    I will sing the praises of your name.”

Again, it says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
    let all the peoples extol him.”

And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
    one who will arise to rule over the nations;
    in him the Gentiles will hope.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:5-13