August 31

My daughter was whining a bit recently that she didn't want to do something.  My answer was that we all have things we don't want to do, but we do them anyway.  It may be kind of weird, but it made me think about heaven.  I have a feeling that the things we will do in heaven will not so much be only those things we like to do, but that WE will be different.  Our attitudes about the things we do will be perfectly in sync with God's will.  We will enjoy what we do not because of what we do, but because of who we are in the doing.

Lord God, Creator and Sustainer, help me to change.  Grant me grace to become the person you meant me to be from the beginning of time, so that I can more closely reflect you and your will.  Amen.


August 29

Part of the joy of existence is how different we all are.  We share many characteristics the same. We hold similar opinions and beliefs as some people.  But, we can also be very, very different.  Even when we have similar interests, the way we express those interests is different.  I think about the people on my street: we would look similar from the outside.  From the inside, we are each different people who approach life in our own unique ways.  It can make holding a community event rather challenging, but we grow from our interactions with one another.  Any group of people faces the same challenges and opportunities.  Do you struggle with the differences you encounter in your interactions?  Do you see the challenges of relationships as opportunities to learn and grow?

You are the creator of all things, Lord, of each unique human being on this earth.  Thank you for the opportunity to learn how other people can be so different from me, yet also reflect you and your love.  Help me to see how I need to change and grow to be who you want me to be.  In Jesus; name, Amen.


August 27

I was driving down a winding, country road and came across a sign on a church message board. The message was clear and simple; "God has a big eraser."  As I drove on, I was reminded of the times I needed forgiveness from God. Each ‘mistake’ reminded me of God’s steadfastness to nurture within me a spirit-centered heart.

God will use his eraser when you ask with a heart that is ready to acknowledge the mistake, and ask his forgiveness.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

                                                   Psalm 51:10

                                                                               New American Standard Bible


August 25

Here are two miraculous catches of fish. I don't know that I have ever heard of the second one. 

Luke 5Common English Bible (CEB)

Jesus calls disciples

One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”
Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.”
So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting.They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught.10 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.
Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.”11 As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.

John 21:1-11Common English Bible (CEB)

Jesus appears again to the disciples

21 Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus[a]), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.”
They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus.
Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards.
When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish.
Jesus told us to be fishers of men. Go out and take a leap of faith and talk to someone who does not know the love of God. Remember these miracles and let the word of God fill you with strength.


August 23

One of the great joys of living in Maryland is that we experience changing seasons. Just as we tire of the extremes of one season, we can anticipate the joys of the next season and the fresh delights it will bring. This time of year, I am filled with hope brought by the upcoming Fall. I see God's bounty everywhere. Children are heading to school, the places of summer are quieting, and the night air is crisping. The slower pace of summer is beginning to quicken now. We are returning to the routines of the next season and anticipating whatever adventures it might hold.

 But any change -- even good change -- can bring stress and fears of the unknown. Our joys and routines can quickly be upended, and we can be left wondering, where is God in this?

The Lord answers us in scripture:  I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me.   Jeremiah 29:11-13. The Common English Bible.


August 21

I just heard a story of someone who had a very close escape from a falling tree.  This past week, I came up to an intersection and realized that there had been an accident only a short time before.  There are moments when we narrowly miss a tragedy, but there are almost moments when we are in the middle of that tragedy.  I always pray for those who are calling on first responders for help, and I pray for those who are answering that call.

Gracious and almighty God,  please be with those who are in the midst of any tragedy or violence, illness or accident and call for help.  Please be with those who answer that call and move toward the hard circumstance to bring relief.  Be with those whose loved ones are beyond human help.  Grant comfort, strength, and healing.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


August 19


            One of my favorite games to play, once upon a time, was chess. I still play it, although not as much as I used to. Admittedly, I’ll never be another Bobby Fischer, but it’s still good to flex one’s mental muscles now and then.
            I got to thinking about chess sets recently, and it struck me that there are parallels between the chess pieces and the way we are called upon to live our lives as Christians. In case you don’t know what the chess pieces are, they are, in ascending order of power: Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen, and King.
            PAWN: There are eight of them to a side in chess, and they represent the foot soldiers – if you will, the common people. They are the ones out advancing the Kingdom’s cause, with only one direction: forward. And even though their lives may be ones of endless drudgery and thanklessness, they can rise above the drudgery and be promoted to a new life in God.
            KNIGHT: There are two to a side, and they are pieces of action. They do the king’s will and gladly move wherever he wishes them to go. Theirs is the active life of service to God, out in the trenches, full speed ahead.
            BISHOP: Again, two to a side, and even though bishops are ordained clergy, to me – just as bishops were often powerful advisors to the nobility – the bishops represent the wise counselors, clergy or laity, who are there to guide us in our efforts to advance the Kingdom.
            ROOK: Again, two to a side, and this piece is sometimes called the Castle. The castle was a refuge in which people would stay if things got too stressful outside. Also, castles were usually made out of stone – or rock. This is a reminder that when things get tough for us, we too can take refuge inside our Rock, Jesus.
            QUEEN: Only one queen, and she is the most powerful piece in terms of movement. It’s well documented that in the Bible, the chief supporters of Jesus and His ministry were women – a reminder to all of us that in this battle to advance the Kingdom, the women are just as important as the men.
            KING: Only one king, just as we have only one King. He is the most important piece, for if the king is lost, the battle is lost. But that’s chess, where the outcome is not predetermined; either side can win.

            Unlike chess, though, the outcome has already been decided. When the King sacrificed Himself for us and rose again, that sealed the victory for God and all those who follow Him. We need not fear ultimate defeat as long as we put our trust in the King. Amen.


August 17

  A couple houses in our neighborhood are for sale.  We speculate and hope about who our new neighbors might be.  The former neighbors have moved into situations which are better for them at their age, and are doing well.  In the time I have lived in this neighborhood, several of the families have changed. The houses they moved into were changed to suit the new inhabitants- new color, a new garage, even a new addition.

The 23rd psalm celebrated that we will live in the house of the Lord forever.  Of course, that has more meanings than a real structural home, but it has the same meaning of a place to call home.  We will live in a place that is comfortable, safe, and perfectly suited for us.  We don't have to change it or learn to live with less than the best.  The Lord will give us the best place to live in forever.

Lord, thank you for preparing a place for us that we can live in forever.  Thank you for welcoming us into your presence now and for all eternity.  Thank you for the comfort of knowing that you take care of me now, and have made provision for me in the future.  Amen.


August 15

OK, I am afraid of spiders.  I understand their necessary place in the world.  I appreciate their ability to keep other insects to manageable levels and help gardeners.  I'm still afraid of them.  No idea why. If creation had been up to me, there would be no spiders.  I'm glad that creation wasn't up to me.  How limited it would be!  The world wasn't built to suit me!!  I am only a small part of the whole of creation, after all.

Gracious God, you are the limitless creator of all things.  You are wise beyond any imagining.  Thank you for creating so many different things, even the ones I don't like.  Thank you for creating me.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


August 13

Psalm 121: 1-3

" I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God won't let your foot slip. Your protector won't fall asleep on the job."

What a wonderful feeling to wake up each day knowing that God is right there with us. If it is a good day or a bad day, a happy day or a sad day, an easy day or a hard day, God is with us 24 hours a day.  Reach out and take the hand of God each morning. Have God journey your day with you.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for always being there for us. Help us to lean on you and depend on you each and every day.


August 11

We recently held Vacation Bible Camp at our church.  We had a lot of decorations and other props, which we lent to another church.  We share ideas and programs with other churches.  This is one of the best parts of being in a church, I think.  We act as scripture describes us: a family or the body of Christ.  We function in harmony and act together to make possible what we couldn't do on our own.

Lord, thank you for putting us in a place and with people with whom we can share your love and share the work of your kingdom.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


August 7

How often are we asked to make decisions that will effect our future without knowing exactly what those effects will be?  I don't like facing a decision without all the facts.  Of course, we never really have all the facts, do we?  We aren't God, and we can't know everything and all possibilities.  We decide based on our best knowledge and circumstances at the time.  Sometimes, it works out well and other times, not so much.  We rely on prayer heavily in times of choice, but for me at least, I don't always go to God for "small" decisions.  I should go to God for ALL decisions.

Almighty God, please help me to make good choices.  Help me to turn to you and to listen for your will.  Help me to make the loving choice in all circumstances.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


August 3

          There are days when everything seems out of sorts and the gears of life seem not to be meshing.  Then, thankfully, there are days that are the opposite—days when we reflect on our lives and are amazed at the pivotal moments when we’ve had the opportunity to make decisions more  long ranging than we could have guessed.  We made them little realizing how important they were to the arc of our lives.  But we see it now! Somehow those options, or decisions or actions have prepared us for the day in which we now find ourselves.  And we are grateful. The wise and faithful see such moments as times when God’s providential hand has touched our lives--guiding us, sustaining us, preparing us for our future in ways we could not understand at the time.

            Reflect on your life---on the decisions made, the turns taken, and discern God’s hand in your life journey.  May your prayer for the day be the words of the Psalmist: “You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word.  Teach me good judgment and knowledge.”  {Psalm 119:65-66a}


August 1

Prayer Is Powerful

We have had Vacation Bible Camp at church this week and every session has included a time when the children are taught to pray.  Children are being taught to pray when they have a big test coming up; pray when they are anxious and have trouble sleeping, pray to know that they have a friend who always hears them, and pray when they aren’t sure what to do.  We teach our children that prayer can help them, no matter how they feel or what their situation may be. 

    Prayer has amazing properties.  It can do all of the above and more.  I was recently given an article from the Harvard Business Review, January 8, 2015, which says that prayer and other forms of mindfulness changes the brain.  Recent studies indicate that at least 8 areas of the brain are consistently affected when we pray.  

     One of the areas affected is the hippocampus which actually grew when people prayed.  It is located inside the temple on each side of the brain, and is associated with emotion and memory.  While stress shrinks the hippocampus, prayer actually contributes to resilience.  Neuroscientists have also shown that practicing prayer affects brain areas related to perception, body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking, and sense of self.

    In short, scientific studies are providing observable results pointing to a growing knowledge that prayer is powerful!  

   Loving God, we are grateful for studies which show that prayer actually changes us. When we shift our thoughts in a mindful way, we open channels for health and wholeness which can help us everyday.  Thank you for the ways in which science and religion are converging to help us further understand the power of connecting with You!   Amen.