January 29

Lent is around the corner.  In preparing for that season, I was reviewing studies.  One study was light hearted and even fun- for Lent?  The author argued that we should be joyful in a season dedicated to growing closer to Jesus. How right he is!  Growing closer to Jesus should be as enticing and joyful as growing closer to anyone we love and who loves us.  We usually feel trepidation, though, maybe even fear.  Getting closer to Jesus will ask something of us and we prefer to give on our own terms, as much as and what we want to give.

Gracious and loving Savior, please help us to yearn for you.  Help us to yearn to be the person you want us to be and to give ourselves totally into your care.  Amen.


January 27

As I write, the Baltimore area braces for a major snow event and weather channels have listed emergency items needed to ‘weather’ the storm. Items include snow shovels, salt, extra food, batteries, flashlights, generators, medicines, diapers, filled gas tanks, etc… Citizens are quick to respond and gather from the list.
When we are faced with a situation that requires us to be on guard and quick to respond, do we get started with the list immediately, or do we seek a time of prayer to ask God for his presence? Remember the words of Psalm 91, verses 1-2.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91New International Version (NIV)

Before you pick up the snow shovel or run to the store, go to the LORD in prayer.

God, we ask for safety and protection during the pending storm. We ask for safety for those who clear roads and provide emergency services. Protect our elderly and those with special needs to ensure their comfort and needs. Please ensure the safety of our emergency crew who work to keep power available to households and businesses.
Heavenly Father, remind us YOU are our refuge in any storm and offer the ultimate protection.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. ...


January 25

Truly believing in a higher power is one of the most difficult things to be done. I find this is because it is human nature to have a shadow of doubt clouding the way we should be seeing the word of God. I always am wishing I could go back and witness Jesus preaching the word of God, maybe then when I see him, I can fully embrace his love for me.

But then I think, there is no way to possibly overcome doubt, because his own disciples who left everything behind to walk with Jesus, remained doubtful. After Jesus had risen from the dead just as he said he would, Thomas said to his disciples, ““Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

                A week later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.””(John 20:25-29). 


January 23

Dear Father,
     In this busy, hurry up world of ours, thank you for sending me opportunities to sit with you for a while.
     On a snowy day, waiting in the car, alone at the table after breakfast, wherever I am. You will meet me there. I just need to invite you to join me.
     Help me to take the moment to sit, take a deep breath, and focus my mind on all the blessings you have given to me. Help me to soak in your word, to open my heart for learning about you, and to be grateful even in the middle of difficult things and hard times.
     Help me to celebrate you in all things. And to remember to sit for a while, and invite you to sit with me, too.

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” Mark 6:30-31. CEB.

Come to me all who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30. CEB


January 19

                There has been much talk in the news of late about weapons and the need to control their usage. I am not here to argue the merits for or against such a position, but I would like to bring to everyone’s attention the most lethal weapon known to mankind.
                It is not a very big weapon, but it has immense power to destroy – families, reputations, lives.
It is not an explosive weapon, but it can pack more force behind it than just about anything we can think of.
                It weighs only an ounce or two, but that’s enough to be deadly, and almost anyone can use this weapon.
                Its effects can be felt long after it has been “fired.”
                I am talking, of course, about the tongue.
                The tongue is one of our best tools to communicate with one another. The problem arises because the tongue is definitely a double-edged sword. The words that roll off our tongues can be used to lift people up, inspire them, and give them hope, but they can also be used to tear people down and make them feel like dirt.
                James has much to say about the tongue. In James 3:8-10, the author says, “…but no human being can tame the tongue – a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, but with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.” (RSV)
Gossips love to use their tongues; they figure that what they’re telling people is important information, and the more people who know it, the better. Gossips are also, sadly, a dime a dozen. It takes people like Dr. Martin Luther King to use the tongue to inspire people, as he did during the civil rights marches in the South. His words still echo today, and his dream of racial harmony, though still unfulfilled, is one to which we should all aspire.

                The tongue is small and has no bones, but it is powerful. Therefore, we should follow the example Dr. King and others have set and choose our words wisely.


January 17

"May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you.  May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people.  Amen."

Holy Lord of justice and mercy, guide us to see with your eyes, with the eyes of love, when we look at others.  May we act toward others in the love of your Spirit and not in the shallow judgment of humankind.  Amen.


January 15

I was recently in a different part of the country and was doing a little shopping in the grocery store.  I was surprised at how polite and helpful people were to me, in the parking lot and in the store.  I overheard a customer helping another customer find an item in the dairy section when I realized how sad I felt.  I was surprised and saddened by how surprising the general kindness was to me.  Were the people in my area so impolite or unkind?  Or was I so busy and self involved at home that I missed these treasures of kindness?  I promised myself that I would try to be more aware of others in my daily life and to be kind as these people were being kind to me.

Holy Lord, please save me from myself and my self interests.  Help me to be open to you and to the people around me.  Help me to understand my true place in your plan- to be an instrument of your love.  Grow the fruit of kindness in my spirit and in my life.  In the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen.


January 13

I'm doing it again: working far ahead in my schedule (which I must do for work), but losing sight of this moment.  God has given me only this moment.  I plan for the future, but it is not mine.  Only this time, this moment is mine- to do or not do as God would have me act- to be or not be as God calls me.

Help me remember, O Lord, that you are in charge of each moment.  Help me to give all my moments to you.  Amen.


January 11

Thank you, God, that you know what is in our hearts even when we don't.  Thank you for understanding us and for loving us.  Help us to know what is in our minds and hearts and to repent of that which is not in your will.  Please strengthen that in us which is from your Spirit.  In Jesus's name.  Amen.


January 9

As the new year of 2016 begins, I think about how I can work on becoming the person God wants me to be. I am learning to disregard the misguided views of our society. It is a challenge with all the media sources which constantly inundate us with information that puts a spotlight on self-indulgence and materialism. The media love to highlight outrageous behavior on their reality shows, so much that people are no longer shocked by it as they once would have been. I know that I must filter what influences me and search for positive influences. My church life is an important influence in my life. My activities at church, worship, fellowship with others, Bible study, and service activities all help shape the person I am becoming and influence the decisions I make. Asking God to guide us each day will help us become the person He wants us to be.


January 7

This is the cuddly time of year!  The cold and gray and general misery of January always makes me want to cuddle in a soft blanket with a hot drink and either read a good book or watch a good movie.  This is the time of year for steam rising off the mug and for furry slippers.  Often the dog will bury himself under my blanket and nap while I read or watch TV.  This is the time of year for the crackle of logs in the fireplace and for soup for supper.

Gracious Lord, thank you for the comfort of warmth in the cold of winter.  Thank you for your love, which warms all of my life.  Amen.


January 3, 2016

            I've been wrestling with the word “hope” throughout the advent and Christmas seasons and now into the new year.  I’ve always found hope a positive word, a clean and healing word, a word like a fresh, sterile, medicated dressing I may put on a wound. The dressing is meant to promote the healing of the wound and recovery of wholeness.

            But some of the mortal hopes I keep hearing expressed in this wounded, combative world are not medicinal and healing; they are cutting and sharp—hopes not for justice, but for vengeance and vindication. Just as the sterile dressing I mentioned can become contaminated if we humans are careless in handling it, so hope can be contaminated by our human anger, selfishness, and vindictiveness.

            Many of us love John 3:16—“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may have life eternal.”  But it seems to me that  we need to be careful to include John 3:17 with it.  It casts light on God’s way of curing our human brokenness.  “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” It speaks not of retribution but of redemption as God’s way.

            Therein is hope—clean, healing, restorative. It’s not a hope armed with vengeance but redemption. May that kind of hope grow in us, in our world, in our relationships, in our human family during 2016. “Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen”