October 29

Autumn is a time of brilliant color.  The reds and golds make me think of fire and warmth, but Autumn is a time of chilly weather.  It is the chill that causes the fiery colors!  Sometimes, it is the opposite of what we expect or plan that gives us the best and most life giving result.

Thank you, God, for surprises.  Thank you for turning the "chill" into awe inspiring beauty in our lives.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


October 27

As I took a walk the other day, signs of fall were apparent. As the first cool breeze arrived, leaves floated softly from trees. The falling leaves reminded me of the blessings we receive from God.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for all the blessings you provide. Like the floating leaves, may our blessings be bountiful and noticed. Help us see blessings in the people we meet each day and the situations we encounter. Provide the wisdom to recognize each blessing, both the obvious, and not so obvious. Encourage us to share with others how we, as well as they, have been blessed. May we discern the blessings in our lives are the result of your hand.
There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.
Deuteronomy 12:7 New International Version (NIV)


October 25

Matthew 25:14-30English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

In this parable Jesus emphasizes the importance of using your God- given gifts to the best of your ability. If you are a natural athlete, a math genius, a great writer, or a public speaker, God has given you those gifts. To not use them to achieve your best is to sacrifice those gifts. Jesus tells us to take risks and overcome our obstacles in order to achieve that ultimate goal. Use your strengths to serve God, and he will be pleased. To accept "normal" will result in harsh judgment.


October 23

You’re Invited

            You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you. Fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.  We see it taking shape day after day – a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.  Ephesians 2:19 -22. The Message.


October 21

I was recently with a group of young children who were talking about what they wanted to be for Halloween.  It struck me that we say, "what I want to be" rather than, "what costume I will wear".  When I was young I didn't literally mean that I wanted to BE someone or something else for Halloween.  But, I also didn't just mean that I had a good costume to wear.  In some sort of, partly, kind of way, I did want to step out of myself to become what I was wearing.  At least, I was not completely who I normally was; I was perceived differently and treated differently.

Young children do take on what they perceive to be behaviors of the characters they "become" for Halloween.  They growl like monsters or step royally like a princess or cackle-laugh like a witch.

God has created us to be who we are, but also to be the person God created us to become.  God loves us completely as the person we are now, but has plans for us to become an amazing person, if we work with the Spirit to become that person.

Let's follow the example of the children and take on the characteristics of the persons God wants us to be!


October 19

Words, to me, are a source of delight. We can do so many things with them. We can notice quirky facts about them, such as, “There are no words in the English language that rhyme with the word ‘angel.’” Or we can make up jokes about them, such as, “Did you know that in the dictionary, under ‘redundant,’ it says, ‘See redundant’?”
            Or we can be totally confused by some of the things we say. For example, ‘alter’ and ‘change’ are synonyms, but ‘altering your trousers’ and ‘changing your trousers’ are two totally different things. Or, why do wear a pair of pants but just one shirt?
            Words are one of the best tools we have for communication. As with any tool, however, there’s a correct way to use it, and there’s also an incorrect way to use it. With the Internet running rampant now, our world has become a place in which anything we say can be seen, heard, and read by people who know what we mean, and by people whose thoughts take them to a totally different universe.
            Words have enormous power. They have the power to raise someone up, and they also have the power to tear people down. So how do we tame them and use them in the best possible way? We have to learn how to tame our tongues. And that is by no means easy.
            James is very clear on this. In James 3:7-9, 10b, he says, “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God… Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (NLT)
            So if we can’t tame the tongue, why should we try? The simple answer is we can’t do this by ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit to help us learn self-control. It will take time to learn, but if we apply ourselves to learning the art of self-control, then the blind rage that seems to be overtaking our public discourse might just lessen. Gradually, almost imperceptibly at first, and then, with ever-increasing vigor, love will win the day, and the words we speak will not be double-edged swords.
            It won’t be easy, but in the end, it will be well worth the effort.

Lord, we have used and misused the words You have given us. Through the Holy Spirit, help us to learn how to use words to nurture the best of us, rather than bring out the worst. Amen.


October 17

Have you ever been somewhere you did not expect to be, doing something you did not expect to be doing?  But- you know it is the right thing to do?

Thank you, almighty God, for being in charge.  Thank you for taking care of me and using me to take care of others.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


October 15

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 Everything on earth has its own time and its own season.
  There is a time for birth and death, planting and reaping,
  for killing and healing, destroying and building,
  for crying and laughing, weeping and dancing,
  for throwing stones and gathering stones, embracing and parting.
  There is a time for finding and losing, keeping and giving, for tearing and sewing, listening and speaking.
  There is also a time for love and hate, for war and peace.

Let us embrace the season of Fall with it's many visual changes from the luscious color of the changing leaves on the trees, the harvest of those final crops in the fields, and the acorns falling from the trees. These are all reminders of God's provisions for the seasons ahead. May we prepare ourselves for this and each season knowing that God is in charge of our lives and provides for us.

Dear God,
We thank you for the seasons knowing you provide for us, and that there is a time for everything.  We know you are part of this change and transformation. God of life, help us to believe and trust in you as you guide our daily lives.


October 13

I'm not sure if it is anecdotal or if there are real scientific studies, but some parts of nature are calming for us humans.  Watching fish swim is calming.  Petting furry creatures is calming.  A purring cat is calming.  Is it the slower pace or the connection with living beings who are not us or that those living beings are accepting of us?  Regardless of the reason, those calming parts of nature are gifts for us. God knows how we are wired and created parts of the world with which we can connect.

Creator and Sustainer, thank you for the gifts of the rest of the world.  Thank you for filling the world with animals and allowing us the privilege of relationships with them.  Help us to be blessings for them as they are blessings for us.  In Jesus' name. Amen. 


October 11

There are some things that are good for me but I really hate them, kale, for example.  I dislike the taste of kale and the taste of okra.  I know that there are foods that are good for me and which I also enjoy.  But, eating them isn't as wonderful as eating ice cream.  Discipline is difficult!  The spiritual disciplines can be difficult, too.  Fortunately, there are a lot of spiritual disciplines.  Prayer is often considered a spiritual discipline and I suppose there are ways to pray that are very disciplined.  But, I have always considered prayer an ongoing conversation with God.  At certain times, I try to listen more than talk, but I more or less talk with God all day.  Fasting is a spiritual discipline which I find very difficult.   I guess fasting is like kale for me, while prayer is like ice cream.

Gracious Lord, I thank you for creating a variety of people and preferences.  Thank you for ice cream!  Please be with me to help me become molded more fully into the person you created me to be, even if it is difficult.  In Jesus' name. Amen.


October 9

Lately I have been thinking about how important the time is that I spend in fellowship with my Christian friends. As Christians, we have in common the belief in Jesus Christ, as our Savior. We experience a very special bond because of this common belief. The time spent with other Christians in fellowship helps us to grow our faith. Fellowship involves sharing our joys and pain. Other Christians usually are very thankful when I tell them I will pray for them. There is a special connection between those who pray for someone and those persons we lift up in prayer. Being in fellowship with other Christians encourages a deeper relationship with Christ.

Dear Lord,

I am thankful for the times of fellowship with my Christian friends. Amen


October 7

Thank you, Lord God, for our youngest children.  Thank you for their curiosity.  Thank you for their questions and honesty.  Thank you for the joy with which they learn.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


October 5

Consider the kitten and puppy...

If you have ever had a cat or dog from weeks old, you know this is soooo cute.  Probably because you feel peace when you see this.  There is lots of action and curiosity while they are awake ... and as I say to my puppy, "If you keep looking for trouble, trouble will find you."

There is so much for us to learn from kittens and puppies.  They trust us totally.  They depend on us for every need.  They need love and attention.  And they look to us for discipline and to set boundaries.

It seems we are are like puppies and kittens when it comes to God.  We are needy and we are constantly searching.

Put your trust in God and maybe you'll be able to sleep like these two!


October 3

Every now and then I overbook myself.  I did that a few weeks ago.  I said “yes” to too many requests, and then that got complicated by two sets of people—one family and another friends—who called to see about stopping by for a few hours, one set on Saturday and the other on Sunday. The requests I had said “yes” to were ones I could have turned down when asked, but not now.  The one for visitors to stop by were requests to which I could not say no for very personal reasons; they lived out of town and it meant an awful lot to see them just now.  I fretted privately about how all of this would work out only to discover when the weekend was over, it all worked out fine.  It was a big boost to see family and friends; the other plans worked out fine timewise.  In addition, in the doing of the latter plans, I unexpectedly had an opportunity to be helpful to someone who was facing a very upsetting and traumatizing situation and needed an ear to talk even  more than she needed me to cover a task she’d asked me to do.

                It was busy, but in the course of two days, God touched needs in my life and the lives of others—family  and friends and the person facing a trauma. All of us were uplifted and blest. 

                It’s good to be reminded that God can override our over-planning or lack of it and make moments special with God’s abundant grace.

                “O God, thank you for moments when your words to Paul the Apostle become words to us: ‘…my grace is sufficient for you,”.   Amen 


October 1

"Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee."  St. Augustine

     Much is said in the church about knowing God. Yet Christians throughout the ages have agreed that there cannot be deep knowledge of God without deep knowledge of the self. Just like you cannot truly love God without truly coming to love yourself and others, knowing yourself is inextricably linked to knowing God.  Paradoxically,  the more you become like Christ and the more you become authentically yourself.

   Pope Francis mentioned Thomas Merton last week in his address to Congress.  One of the topics Merton is best known for is the way he makes clear the difference between the false self and the true self. He exposes the false selves that we may hide behind and calls us to discover the true self that emerges from our uniqueness in Christ. When we are free from illusions about ourselves, our emerging self-understanding leads to the fulfillment of our God-given purpose in life.

     Christian spirituality involves a transformation of the self that occurs only when God and self are both deeply known.  The self is not God, but it is the place where we meet God. Genuine self-knowledge revitalizes our spiritual life and opens the door to becoming who God has created us to be. Rest assured, no one needs to keep trying to be someone they are not. But we will all deepen our experience of God through discovering the gift of being ourselves.