Quick to Listen
by Deanna Carr
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." James 1:19 NLT
I went to the bank, but the man I wanted to speak to was busy. I went to Walgreens to pick a up prescription at the drive-thru window. There was a sign there that said "no pharmacist available". That was different from their normal sign they put up when the staff is having a lunch break from 1:30-2:00. Many times I have gone there when they were closed for lunch. But remember this sign was different, NO PHARMACIST AVALABLE. It even said where the closest Walgreens is from Ontario.
I decided to physically go into the store and the shades were down. Then, I went to the front counter and asked the clerk. He said they w²ere probably just at lunch.
I decided to run another errand to the Phones Plus store. The gal messed around with my iPad and she was making progress. She then said that I needed to come back in thirty minutes. So, I went to a coffee place and purchased an expensive coffee. After thirty minutes had elapsed, I went back. Within five minutes it was ready to go and I headed back to Walgreens.
I checked to see if cars were in line and there was one, so I got in line behind it. The driver seemed to be waiting a long time and I could hear her angry words. So, I got out of my car and went to talk to her to see if they were really in there. She said they were but they were just messing around and they didn't know what they were doing.
After waiting a little more, I decided, I would come back later. I tried to get the lady behind me to back up. There was no response. I got back in the car and waited a little bit more. I discovered she had been sleeping. I signaled for her to back up. She did, but I hardly had enough room to back out.
I went home and called the pharmacy. The robot lady can't answer your questions unless she is programmed for the right ones. I finally was referred to someone who could help me. I told the pharmacy tech, Orion, what had happened. I know him. He said he was really sorry, but they had a problem with their Covid shots and were about to lose them. My heart went out to him and the other workers. I said I would come back later.
I went home to discover that the young man who is redoing my bathroom had made minimal progress. He has been working on it since November. He is starting a full time job on Monday.
I learned a little about anger, today.
When is it good to be angry? Jesus got angry. James writes about righteous and unrighteous anger. The late James Lewis talked about good trouble. The January 6th attack on the capital was not good anger or good trouble.
Righteous anger cares about others. Righteous anger doesn't hurt. It doesn't retaliate. Sinful anger opposes love, kindness, and respect. Righteous anger doesn't demean or denigrate. Righteous anger is improving and building relationships.
Our Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace that we don't deserve. Thank you for giving us second chances. Thank you for your magnificent love. Help us to be like Jesus in all we do and all we say. Amen.
Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord – I Want to See You
by Jessica Adams and Lucy Adams-Hardenbrook
"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:8-9
Our daughter-in-law, Jess, shared this conversation she had with our five-year-old granddaughter, Lucy. Feeling like I have a little saint in the making on my hands tonight.
Lucy at bedtime, weeping: I know Jesus is in my heart.
Jess: Yes, he is! Does that make you sad? What’s the matter?
Lucy: It’s just that I’ve never seen him.
Jess: Well, most people don’t, but you could pray for that.
Lucy: You mean I could make up a “pray” and ask Jesus to let me be a person who sees him?
Jess: Yes! You can definitely make up that prayer.
Lucy, still weeping: Oh, Jesus, I pray that you could please, PLEASE make me a person who sees you because I love you so much and I never want to lose you.
Jess: That was wonderful.
Did anyone out there pray like that when you were five years old?
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord; open the eyes of my heart – I want to see you; I want to see you. Amen.
Don’t Give Up Hope
by Anne DeBord
"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever." Psalm118:1
When my oldest son was about ten years old, he took on the summer job of caring for the neighbors’ yard while they were on vacation. With extra effort and for a little surprise for them, he was arranging medium sized rocks around the outside edge of the pond. All was going well when he accidently dropped a rock on his right index finger and thumb causing blood to flow, pain to start and a short run home to Mom for a look. It looked bad enough for a trip to the doctor, and it was close enough to quitting time for Dad to come home and help out with the crisis trip. Dad could drive and Mom could soothe a scared child.
Causing more problems was the fact that my son was planning a trip with his grandparents to Spokane for the World’s Fair in just a few days. The doctor analyzed the situation, found the thumbnail broken as well as the finger and thumb and it required splinting. We were sure the trip would have to be cancelled, but to our surprise, the doctor said, “You can heal traveling as well as sitting around being depressed.”
“Thank God,” I said.
Our son’s accident didn’t ruin a blessed chance to go have fun with his grandparents.
Praying in the crisis, along with us parents adding our layer of soothing, led to a very positive result.
In simple daily life, we pray for a clear view in moving forward in hope for a good future. Amen.
Playing by God’s Rules
by Chase Van Weerdhuizen
Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “how long shall this fellow be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the LORD their God; do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” Exodus 10:7
It’s hard to lose at the game.
Pharaoh was part of a tradition of winners. The kings and queens of Egypt never lost at anything. They were a global superpower at the time and had stayed that way for thousands of years by being the best at what they did. They had a highly skilled army. They were the best representational artists on the planet. And don’t get me started on how good they were at stacking rocks on top of each other! They had to be good at everything. They were surviving on a temperamental river system at the east of the Sahara. There was no room for losers.
Of course in order to be a winner, someone has to be a loser. In the case of Egypt, it was the slaves needed to maintain their infrastructure. At this point in the story, God had started letting Egypt know that he wasn’t happy about the whole slavery thing. But Pharaoh continued to hold out, causing his own team to suffer.
Pharaoh’s officials were reminding him of his duty to his entire kingdom. Why wasn’t he worried about how their livestock had keeled over? Or how the Deben was going down in value? Or that everyone was still trying to sweep frogs out of their houses? Oh let’s not forget how the sky had been streaked with fire and ice just the day before. Or that beyond their borders they had to deal with enemy states like the Mitanni and the Libyans who were ready to pounce at any moment. Because it wasn’t just God who wasn’t happy with them, it was all their neighbors too. Maybe if they’d been just a bit nicer before…
Pharaoh was willing to give up everything to win in a contest of spite against his adopted brother and his brother’s God. Often we are tempted to do the same, whether it is for our pride, hate, or even grief. God calls on us to be better sportspersons. Not only do we follow Christ’s example so that we might truly enjoy the game being played, but I’m pretty sure he’s willing to pay for an ice cream cone at the drive-in on the way home.
Dear God, help me to play by your rules when it’s so easy to follow my own. As we approach the darkest days of Lent, let Christ be our example of how to win the game against death. Amen.
by Larry Haley
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20 KJV
Several years ago our pastor announced his intention to retire. We were a small church congregation and our pastor served us part-time which was just what we needed. We were concerned about who could provide this limited but important role for us. Part-time pastors are hard to find. Would a new pastor be serving multiple churches? Would our worship time need to change? Our retiring pastor suggested we start a prayer vigil focused on a new pastor and what we needed. We decided that for the months of February and March, the time before new pastors are assigned, that we would have Prayer Tuesdays. The plan was to have one hour prayer times in the church sanctuary that individuals could reserve and come and pray. The times were from 6am to 9pm. Immediately folks signed up and we filled most of the slots. And so on the first Tuesday in February the prayer vigil began and continued for the two months.
Sometime in April we were contacted that our new pastor had been selected and he was brought to our church by our DS and introduced. He was a retired pastor/DS who lived 15 minutes away. He wanted part-time at one church. And then he said “I decided I wanted to return to preaching and on the first Tuesday in February I called the DS to see if there was a possibility.” The day we started our prayer vigil! We prayed for two months not knowing that God had already answered our prayers.
In reflection, I’ve thought of the verse of being gathered in God’s name and I now believe it not only refers to physical gathering but also to spiritual gathering.
Prayer: Lord, you know what we need before we do. Help us to listen to you and to accept what you provide. Amen
We Have Been Set Free
by Jean Hershey
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
I found this story several years ago, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Let me share it with you today.
As a man was passing the elephants at a circus, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller, we used the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before? It seems a common human response to failure. We are bound by the belief that we just can’t, and we don’t try.
Failure is part of learning though; we should never give up the struggle in life. Especially when we have the strongest advocate ever, Jesus Christ, who lifts us up and strengthens us! Our bindings have been broken by the blood and sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross! We have been set free!
Jesus, help me remember that I can do all things through you. You strengthen me and are with me with every step I take. Through you I am released from the bonds that hold me, the fears of failure, and I can make it through any conflict or trial if I but lean on your strength and keep my eyes on You! Amen.
By Roxie Tolbert
"We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!" Matthew 20:18-19
Our daughter-in-law, Wendy, got a phone call, a few weeks before Easter, from our granddaughter Trisha, who was away at college. Trisha was very upset and told her mother that she had just found out that she wasn't doing Lent correctly. She said that she had just learned that she was supposed to give up meat for Lent and instead she had been giving up her favorite daily fancy coffee drink from Starbucks. Trisha was attending St. Mary's College, a private Catholic college, and part of the requirement was attending worship services. Apparently it was suggested in the service that it was appropriate to fast from meat. Wendy explained to Trisha that, as she didn't care one way or the other if she ate meat, it would not be a sacrifice for her; so to give up her precious coffee drink was, of course, the right way to fast during Lent for her.
I've had several interesting conversations around doing Lent—everything from being told that, as a Methodist, I can't do Lent because it's only for Catholics (and, no, this bit of wisdom did not come from someone who was actually Catholic) to friends asking me if I do Lent, how I do Lent and if they should do Lent the way I do. My first reaction when someone asked about doing Lent instead of observing Lent was that Lent is a Christian season, not an activity. After giving it a little more thought, I realized that I couldn't be more incorrect. Lent is something you do.
Lent is our time of spiritual preparation before Easter. Preparation, any kind of preparation, requires activity. Some suggested activities are fasting, spiritual discipline, repentance, moderation, and self-denial. Lent is the time when we make an extra effort to draw closer to God – to really think about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time to reflect on the sacrifice that was made for us—the gift that was given to us. The suggested activities provide both time and constant reminders for us during Lent—something to keep us centered during this special time.
So, how do we do Lent? We do it in the way that is the most meaningful to each of us. We do it in the way that brings us closer to our amazing God who loves us so much that he gave his Son to us and for us. However you do lent, do Lent.
Lord, we seek to come closer to you through our Lenten disciplines. May they be a gateway between You and each of us. Amen