June 1, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #45:
The wife of a former pastor of mine wrote a small book entitled My Grace Is Sufficient after the death of her middle child and only son. She wrote saying that in her time of distress she experienced the day by day comfort and strength promised by our Lord. “It was there just as I needed it for the present time only, and always when I asked. A strength you never dreamed possible is available each time you need it.” She continued saying, “God has a way of working things out for the best and accomplishing His will. God was with us all the way.”
Her statements echo what Max Lucado writes in his book Grace for the Moment. He says that God stands between us and our need, waiting to help us. He adds, "Let us boldly approach the throne of our gracious God, where we may receive mercy and His grace to find timely help" - Hebrews 4:16. He continues by saying that God will make sure you have what you need. From His hand you will receive, “Timely help.”
Paul knew all about “Timely help,” often having to call upon the Lord for rescue from imprisonment and death. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 he writes "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
The media has let us know that we are STRONGER TOGETHER. And yes, there’s no doubt that we are stronger with the support of our neighbors across the state, the nation, the world. But something is missing if we believe that we’re doing it ourselves. Any strength that we have comes from God and needs to be recognized, praised, and gratefully appreciated. Perhaps as Christians we need to take the lead in letting others know where strength and grace reside. Christ’s grace IS sufficient to see us through a pandemic, and so much more.
May 29, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #44:
A friend sent me this picture that she was given. It is incredible how such a short statement can trigger all sorts of thoughts pointing back to the Bible and then pointing to what our focus should be on in our current situation. Throughout the Gospels we see Christians (Jews) and the Apostles banding together, supporting each other. Then we read the stories of how the church grew and was spread, and again we saw the Apostles rarely traveling alone. As the Church was established in various cities the local Christians worshipped, and studied the Word together, and supported each other in many ways. All the time there was persecution and oppressive conditions in varying degrees.
Our current virus related conditions is certainly oppressive in its own way. It challenges and frustrates us through separation, stressing our ability to adapt, and the forced abandonment of "normal", not to mention the unique impact on healthcare workers. How to get through this? Two related approaches come to mind. The first is to be like those Christians 2000 years ago and band together to support each other, through family and, say picking a group of people and "adopting" them through calls, texts, and emails. Secondly, we must, by faith, keep our eyes on God and our final HOME. This helps us realize that our current condition is not permanent, that no matter how unpleasant and oppressive the situation is that it is part of God's good plan, and through banding together and supporting each other "We're All Just Walking Each Other Home" to the final prize.
There is a contemporary song called ALMOST HOME by MercyMe. Click on the link below to hear it. When you see a figure in a space suit just turn up the volume and the music will start in about 30 seconds. I will leave you to your own interpretation of the video, but the music's message is the best part.
May 27, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #43:
I pray you'll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe
[Andrea Bocelli (Celine Dion):]
La luce che tu hai
(I pray we'll find your light)
Nel cuore resterà
(And hold it in our hearts)
A ricordarci che
(When stars go out each night)
L'eterna stella sei
Nella mia preghiera
(Let this be our prayer)
Quanta fede c'è
(When shadows fill our day)
Lead us to a place
(Guide us with your grace)
Give us faith so we'll be safe
Sogniamo un mondo senza più violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace, e di fraternità
[Andrea Bocelli (Celine Dion):]
La forza che ci dà
(We ask that life be kind)
È il desiderio che
(And watch us from above)
Ognuno trovi amor
(We hope each soul will find)
Intorno e dentro a sé
(Another soul to love)
Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Just like every child
Need to find a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe
“The Prayer” is a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics. The lyrics themselves tell a story.
A story of need. A story of desired (yet possibly missing) faith. A story of realization that faith is a product of grace, and that only faith through grace will keep us safe.
Is this my prayer? Yours? Ephesians 2:8 tells us: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
I have attached a link to the song being sung by a son of LPC and his wife, Ryan and Abby Jenkins. Let this be our prayer....
May 25, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #42:
Even though Covid-19 keeps us isolated, it is normal life for the squirrels and birds. Below are pics from our back yard. The Robin’s nest is out of our kitchen window.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
May 22, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #41:
This April I gratefully celebrated 3 years of being cancer free. These past 3 years I have wanted life to return to normal and be like it was before the cancer diagnosis. I’ve recently come to realize that returning to normal, life before cancer, may not be what God has planned for me. Because life isn’t the way it was before. Life is very different than it was before. In some ways it is better and some ways it is harder. I pray that I will use this new life in a way that is pleasing to God and fits His plans.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Many of us are waiting for life to return to normal after the Covid-19 crisis. The following reflection has been posted on Facebook. It reminds me that “normal” may not be what God has planned for us.
DON'T GO BACK TO NORMAL
- The next time a friend grabs me and pulls me in for a hug, I want to take the time to appreciate the gift of their friendship.
- When school resumes and people are dropping kids off, I hope they take the time to thank the staff for the amazing gift that they give to our community.
- The next time I’m sitting in a crowded restaurant I will take the time to look around at the smiling faces, loud voices and thank God for the gift of community.
- The next time I’m standing in church listening to the voices of praise and worship, I will take a moment to thank God for the gift of congregation.
- The next time I see a person or situation that needs prayer, I hope I pray as passionately and fervently as I have these past few weeks.
- When I am at the grocery store, I will take a moment to thank God that He provides us with the necessities of life and the people who work so hard to keep us supplied.
- I will never again take for granted the ability to hop in the car and visit a friend, go to the store, go to the beach, etc.
Do we really want life to go back to the way it was, or do we want life to be a thank-filled life where we are more focused on praising God and seeking what He wants for us?
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
May 20, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #40:
Sunday May 3rd would have been the Spring Retreat for the 2019-2020 confirmation class. Traditionally, we dive into the meaning - and importance of - church membership and set the foundation for writing Statements of Faith.
I reflect on Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, and his reminder that we are called to belong, not to just believe. The Bible doesn’t teach about solitary saints or spiritual hermits isolated from one another. We would explore verses of “togetherness”: put together, joined together, members together, heirs together, fitted together, held together and caught up together. Haven’t we all had to find creative ways to do that since we last gathered together in the sanctuary on March 8th?
We have a fun exercise with the confirmands where we “tie it” all together while considering 1 Corinthians 12:12-14: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” To Paul, being a member of the church meant being a vital part of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the body of Christ. The class learns that their personal faith is not meant to be private and the importance of sharing their gifts with our church body.
The kids will prepare Statements of Faith in preparation for membership interviews by Session and the opportunity to be welcomed into membership by the congregation. We don’t know what that last piece will look like, but we do hope to share Anna, Dan, Nicolai, Mackena, Rebekah and Ryan’s faith statements with you in the coming weeks.
I long for the days when the body of Christ can fellowship together, but our call to togetherness still stands.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (Ephesians 4:1-5)
May 18, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #39:
A Prayer and Blessing for All
Numbers 6:24-26 NLT
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
May 15, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #38:
God is good! 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)
God is good! Just look out your window. The frustrated red-headed woodpecker pounding on the electric light pole flies off to find better pickings and we hear him all day long.
The Eastern Swallow-tail butterfly is feasting on my neighbor's lilac bush. The abundant variety of birds is sharing God's world in my back yard. Enjoy the flowering Forest Pansy redbud and the pink carpet underneath. The tree peony has huge pink flowers to feast on the raindrops. And an unnamed black butterfly has found the tree peony.
God is good!
Now, find your hymnal and join me in singing, "For the Beauty of the Earth".
And my favorite sevenfold amen.
May 13, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #37:
As I read in today's Daily Bread Devotional, the closing prayer went as follows:
"Father, I thank You that Your mercies are new every morning and Your faithfulness is great. Empower me to sing the song of Your great love--even when I must sing it through my tears."
I sing today for you one of my favorite hymns.
May 11, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #36:
May 8, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #35:
I like to keep things simple and uncomplicated. Many in LPC have suggested that the message from God in these virus times is to simplify/recalibrate our lives in order to focus more on Him and his purpose for our lives. Sounds like a good plan. One of the reasons I like the EPC is that the belief statement is simple and solidly biblically based. Studying the EPC Essentials motivated me to develop 4 simple reminders that I could use:
(1) I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God. Once you accept this statement you have a firm foundation for a deeper understanding of specific messages on specific situations that can be drawn out of the Bible. For example, the Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches that we should care about all people. It also makes it clear that we should not rush to judge other people just by what we may have been "taught", initially see, or hear through gossip. Something I have been guilty of.
(2) I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, who died for my sins, and is the ONLY route to heaven. Again, once you accept this you are now free from all the other "noise" about whether there is a heaven or are there other gods, etc., etc. Once you accept this you are now free to learn more and more about this Jesus who died for YOU and his messages for YOU. The best filter for the "noise" I have found is repeated exposure to The Word through worship, prayer, Bible Studies, and just discussions with fellow believers.
(3) I believe the message of the Gospels is that God chose me, I did not choose him. The "choosing" on my part is to decide what my response to God is going to be. This is where freewill kicks in. I can choose to ignore God's gift of grace and the Holy Spirit to me or I can pursue that gift and understand what it means for me and how it can direct my life through faith. It is my choice to continually experience the WOW factor in God choosing ME - little old me.
(4). I believe there are no coincidences. I believe that God has a master plan for this world and all of us, formed long long ago; and it is still evolving for his GOOD purposes whether we like it at any particular time or not. Take the current situation. Unbelievers will ask, “where is God?“ But, believers who trust in God will ask a different question, “what is God’s message for me and how will I respond?“ What we call coincidences are many times God providing us with an opportunity to respond and glorify him. Watch, wait, listen. Tough for someone like me who likes to get things done now.
I encourage you to go to www.epc.org, click on WHO WE ARE and then ABOUT EPC. When you are ready for digging deeper, click on RESOURCES and then DOWNLOADABLE EPC RESOURCES. Develop your own simple reminders that will trigger your memory about God's gifts to you through the Bible, the Cross, the Gospels, and those seeming coincidences.
May 6, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #34:
From a directory from my grandfather's church in Sunbury:
May 4, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #33:
The wallpaper photo that Microsoft puts on my desktop computer changes each day. This morning it was a beautiful nighttime sky above a fascinating rock formation.
There were so many stars, they melted into one another painting the sky with color and light. I opened my email and read a scripture passage from Psalm 147:4
“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.”
God made and named all those stars, and I was looking at just a tiny piece of the universe in that photo. This same God knows me, too. He knows how many hairs are on my head (Matthew 10:30 “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”). He knows every tear ever shed (Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”). How amazing that the same God who created and named the stars created and named me. Realizing how much God cares for us, and knows everything about us, Peter tells us how we should respond, even in these days of pandemic and anxiety: 1 Peter 5:6-11
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
We look forward to the day when the God of the universe, the maker of every star in the sky, will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us.
May 1, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #32:
Since the impact of COVID-19 began in this country, across the ‘net, more and more websites have been popping up with names like this: “------Strong!” For example: #StocktonStrong, “Unicoi County Strong.” These are helpful websites created to assist people with information and resources to live through this Lockdown Season. The concept is not without value.
I’m a knitter and follow several knitting websites. Recently, in their weekly email, the writers of one site had this to say: “We’re hope you’re all coping! This shall pass – that is the thought that we cling to.”
It isn’t a Christian group. Their focus is knitting. Even so, reading the email, I felt sad for them. Is that all they cling to? “This, too, shall pass.” “Stay strong!” In the face of all that we and the rest of the world are dealing with, positive thinking or “this, too, shall pass” just doesn’t cut it.
Thankfully, for Christians, there is more, so much more, to cling to. We can cling to Christ.
What does it mean to cling to Christ? Martin Luther once said this:
‘Whatever your heart clings to and confides in,
that is really your god, your functional savior.’
Who/what is my functional savior? How about you? Is it a feel-good pop phrase? Is it the result of your own fierce determination?
From Psalm 63, the 8th verse:
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
When I read the verse, I wondered, what does that verb “to cling” mean, in Biblical Hebrew? It means to cleave to, to attach to and then to follow after.
Some translations put it, “My soul follows hard after you.”
These word pictures are so helpful. Attach, cleave, follow hard after the Lord. Doesn’t leave room for alternates!
The result of following hard after the Lord is more than a promise with fulfillment in eternity. It informs us now, right where we are. If body and soul, in life and in death, we belong to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, then we will not turn to positive thinking mantras for the real substance of our coping. We will turn to Jesus himself. His very person is our comfort. He, himself. Each of us will need to figure out how we go about this, day by day -- “following hard” after Christ. There is, though, a promise in the second half of the verse that helps us all to persevere: His right hand will uphold us!
April 29, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #31:
Just a little bit more
This time of staying at home has given me time to reflect on my life. And I can see that I have been so blessed by God in every step of my life. God always seems to put me in the right place at the right time. Or removed me from a place of danger just prior to disaster striking. Sure there have been difficult times in my life, but looking back I can see God has always been there.
My prayers have always been answered. Sometimes the answer was no, or not now.
Sometimes a prayer has been answered immediately, and God has literally snatched me from the jaws of death.
Yet with all this proof that God is always with me and loves me I still question him? How is that? How can that be? Like many of you, I hurt at the loss of a friend to this evil virus. And in my hurt I ask, why God? And like you, I can’t find the answer. But that’s okay. We have to fall back to the words of Jesus…”nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. Luke 22:41-43
It always turns out that what God has in mind for me is better than I could have ever imagined.
Maybe, just maybe the loss of my friend might cause me to care about others just a little bit more, to take advantage of mission opportunities just a little bit more, to sing praises to our God just a little bit more, and to smile just a little bit more. Maybe those “little bit mores” will add up to something good that just might have a positive impact on someone else just like my friends life had on me.
April 27, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #30:
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
We know our God is all powerful. We know our God is all loving. We know our God is all just. So why are there times of trouble when He chooses not to intervene? This is the age old question that many seek to answer. Perhaps the answer is quite simple-- in His sovereignty He can choose to do what He thinks is best. And who am I to question that? He’s got the whole world in His hands and He knows what He’s doing. He carries me through times of trouble with His grace and comfort. Every day brings blessings my way. If Covid-19 draws people closer to God because they realize their utter dependence on Him, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 5:3
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
If we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, earthly things lose their hold on us. His face is glorious, righteous, and full of love.
April 24, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #29:
I received a message today with a recording of the Pennsbury high school chamber choir singing a virtual version of Amazing Grace. I wanted to pass it along with a devotional I found with a passage from 1 Timothy 5:10.
Pennsbury Virtual Chamber Choir sings “Choral Reflections on Amazing Grace” by Roger Ames
Hello!!! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Zoe Necowitz, and I’m a senior at Pennsbury High School. My life at PHS has centered around the drama and music programs. I am a member of Chamber Choir, and this year our “Big Sing” concert held annually at Princeton Chapel was cancelled. Big Sing is always an emotional and important ...
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 NIV
April 22, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #28:
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:13, 14 ESV
During these times of forced separation from people you know and love maybe you have experienced the burning frustration of situations outside YOUR control; waiting for God's answer seems forever; you feel beaten down and your courage being sucked out of you.
-One spouse separated from the other by a window with the only way to be in contact is for one to sit in the car in the parking lot 20 feet away and call the other on FaceTime. Tears in the parking lot.
-A dying parent in hospice made comfortable and unaware through medicine, unable to communicate, allowed one visit by adult children who cannot comfort their father. Tears in the parking lot.
-Relatives and friends who cannot visit one who is deeply loved to provide companionship and comfort for the loss of a spouse because of virus quarantine rules. Tears in the parking lot.
-A grandparent drives to the UPS store, face mask and gloves on, to mail birthday presents to a grandchild he has not seen except electronically for 6 months. Tears in the parking lot.
-A mother of 2 elementary school kids heads to the grocery. She is lucky, her husband can work from home, but she is laid off. She feels lacking in skills to keep her kids learning from what comes from the school via email and is not the greatest at on-line resources. She sits in the minivan outside the store. Tears in the parking lot.
Many of you will recognize some of my frustration examples above as real LPC family situations. Some of you may recall my first Lockdown Devotional and will notice I used the same passage again. It reminds me to look beyond the "tears in the parking lot" and know that God is surely with me. So, you ask, Dick, what goodness have you seen.
-A massive Meals on Wheels effort delivering a week's worth of meals to those who cannot get out and have limited cooking capabilities.
-Residents of a retirement community making masks for staff members and neighbors who might not be so good at sewing.
-Seeing and encouraging (at a distance) neighbors whom you do not normally see while you are out walking .
-Calling and connecting with other church members to check on them and find out if they need anything. Many a great conversation has resulted from those calls.
-This email from a man I barely know saying, "Willa and I would like to wish you and your family a Happy Easter. Thank God we have these promises. I hope everyone is doing well with our dilemma that we're experiencing. It's in God's hands. God Bless." And a chance to email back "Amen Amen".
-A chance to connect with a 17 year old granddaughter because I texted her and told her about KLove; and the thrill of receiving a text back saying she has been listening and it has been good for her.
-The fantastic efforts of our LPC staff to bring The Word to all ages. My son in Massachusetts is using Casey's weekend lessons for kids as a substitute for their inability to attend Sunday school at their church. A friend who moved to a retirement community in Lancaster and does not have connections yet asking for our Lockdown Devotionals and links to the Sunday services.
I will stop there, but I encourage you to look beyond the "tears in the parking lot" and build your own list. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord !
April 20, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #27:
The Word of God
…you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-17
It is our pastor’s prayer that each person attending LPC would become a mature man or woman of God through studying and knowing the Word of God. All of us should know the great doctrines of the faith as a means of knowing the living God and of knowing your own heart. Each of us needs to let the Word confront our own selfishness, pride, anger, greed, and abusive speech. We need to let the Word correct us and keep us on the path of righteous living in this wicked world.
The late H. A. Ironside, told of visiting a godly Irishman, Andrew Frazer, who had come to California to recover from tuberculosis. The old man could barely speak because his lungs were almost gone. But he opened his worn Bible and, until his strength was gone, he simply, sweetly opened up truth after truth in a way that Ironside had never heard before. Before he knew it, Ironside had tears running down his cheeks. He asked Frazer, “Where did you get all these things? Could you tell me where I could find a book that would open them up to me? Did you learn these things in some seminary or college?”
Frazer answered, “My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland. There with my Bible open before me, I used to kneel for hours at a time, and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart. He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the seminaries or colleges in the world.” (H. A. Ironside, In the Heavenlies)
We are under orders to stay at home. You own a Bible. Are you using it daily to learn about God and godly living? It is the only reliable book that tells you how to invest your life. It is useful and sufficient for all of life. “…ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to your soul and to open the Word to your heart.” If you don’t already, I strongly urge you to begin today to consistently read, study, and meditate on the Bible.
April 17, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #26:
My daily devotional is one of my everyday scriptures that even with the lockdown, coronavirus, social distancing, churches closed, schools closed, jobs closed. I look at this picture and remember the words of Paul to the Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ Jesus that strengthens us.
And I think of all the power and strength he gave to all of us. Different countries, different languages, sickness, health, and through it all he strengthened all of us. He will never let us leave his hand. Romans 8:31-39. We are his forever.
April 15, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #25:
In a letter to the editor of a British newspaper, a man complained that he saw no sense in going to church every Sunday. “I have been attending services quite regularly for the past 30 years,” he wrote, “and during that time . . . I have listened to no less than 3,000 sermons. But, to my consternation, I discover I cannot remember a single one of them. I wonder if a minister’s time might be more profitably spent on something else.”
That letter sparked many responses. One, however, was the clincher: “I have been married for 30 years. During that time I have eaten 32,850 meals—mostly of my wife’s cooking. Suddenly I have discovered that I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. And yet, I received nourishment from every one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them I would have starved to death long ago.”
The Bible speaks of the importance of worship. We need help to keep our faith and hope from wavering (Hebrews 10:23), and to love and do good works (Hebrews 10:24). Just as physical food keeps us alive and strong, so also the spiritual nourishment of teaching and fellowship are necessary for our survival.
We can all continue to grow spiritually while under the “stay at home” order. Be a part of the virtual church. Listen to the virtual sermons and the Thursday night classes on line. We can all continue fellowship by calling members of the church (and family and friends) to see how they are doing.
Could you be more regular in your participating in worship and fellowship while under lockdown? How can you find strength in the community of believers at LPC? How can you help encourage other members of the body at LCP during this time of uncertainty?
Lord God, thank you for giving me a Christian family to encourage me and motivate me. Please use me to bless others during this time of crisis. I pray that as members of the body of Christ we may learn to be imitators of You and to walk in love, with one another.
April 13, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #24:
Another verse from Bible Gateway that speaks to the times we live in:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 ESV
A Runner's Perspective:
In and out. In and out. Make no mistake about it, we live in times of trials. The Corona Virus is wreaking havoc on a lot of lives.
In and out. In and out. On average, I run 4 miles everyday. Some days everything is in sync: my breathing, my pace, and my mind. After, I wonder where time went and I feel energetic and ready for anything. I could run 4 more miles. Those days are great!
In and out. In and out. On other days, the opposite is true. I feel every hill and every patch of uneven ground. I feel fatigued and unbalanced. Usually, I finish the run feeling disappointed. My time wasn' t the best. Yet, this is the reality of a runner. You will not always be at your best, but to even experience the good days, you need to train.
In and out. In and out. The same goes for our ability to withstand trials. You have to train for success. In this season of my life, I am undergoing similar trials to the past. I am being tested. I am not afraid to say I got an F- last time. I didn't see the need to train. This time, however, I have been training. I have been in the Word, intently listening for the golden nuggets in the Sunday Sermons, attending Bible Study, valuing Fellowship Hour, praying, relying on the Lord's strength, reaching out, paying attention to the "My Stories" of our congregation, turning the focus to others. I have been learning to abide in the Lord, to give it all to him. I have consciously been preparing for the next winter season of life. All things I spectacularly failed at before. You can put a crown over that F-. Can anyone else relate?
In and out. In and out.
The Corona Virus adds a whole new dimension to these trials. But guess what? Faith and trust in the Lord adds a whole new perspective. I train to better my times, but now I also train to navigate life's murky waters. I take time to rest my body and now I take time to rest in the Lord. And in rest, I always come back both physically and mentally stronger. A medal is nice, but nothing compares to the "Crown of Life." I am a long distance competitor. I know what it takes. The race of life is similar, but this time I am preparing. Are you?
April 10, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #23:
How do we pray at a time like this?
This past weekend I listened to the service at my daughter Sarah’s church in North Carolina. They are discussing how we pray at a time like this and the Pastor preached on the Lord’s Prayer. His sermon was entitled ‘Five Quarantine Resolutions’.
Here are his Five Quarantine Resolutions:
- Resolve to spend time daily with our Father.
- Resolve to seek God’s glory above all else.
- Resolve to see my community healed like heaven.
- Resolve to believe that today I have everything I need for today.
- Resolve to fight against the schemes of the evil one.
At one point he asked the question, ‘Am I desperate for God?’ And I had to answer, yes, I’ve had enough, I am desperate for God, I want to spend time daily with Him, I want to seek His glory above all else and I want to see my community healed like heaven.
I liked when he used the analogy of the early church and said they didn’t know what to do, but the Holy Spirit guided and directed them to help figure it out. We fight from a position of victory, Christ has won the day on the cross, he has defeated death. Our fate is secure in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our God specializes in caring for the needy. We can be his hands and his feet by looking out for our brothers and sisters by following the social distance guidelines. We can pray for our health workers and government workers. God is in control, he has a purpose, we may not know what it is, but he is sovereign yesterday, today and forever.
This Easter season may we rejoice in the hope of Jesus Christ risen from the grave, be patient in tribulation and glorify His name.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 English Standard Version (ESV)
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
April 9, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #22:
Faith at a time of crisis
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."
My faith journey has brought me to lockdown. But faith isn’t something you feel or touch or hold onto. Faith is there the day you believe Jesus Christ is LORD. Faith is the day you believe Jesus is GOD. Around Thanksgiving I thought my faith was fading. I still desired everything I was doing as this new creature, but that "feeling” wasn't strong. I longed for it so much, I prayed for it rush back.....
I go on my first mission trip to Guatemala.
So we stayed at San Lucas San Toliman. We stayed at Hotel Toliman. We exited the van and we walked up a kind of incline. I need to roll the story back we drove past poverty like I had never seen before. We are walking up and there in the distance is a restaurant. As we are approaching others that had been here before looked anxious at my expression. What I saw renewed my faith and has sealed it since. I am posting what I saw that MADE me believe that GOD is GOOD All the TIME!!! So when you think about this virus or anything else pull this devotional out and sing. Out loud "How Great Is Our God"
April 8, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #21:
God is a God of Order
This morning, when I first came downstairs and looked outside, there was a strong breeze. The tree in our front yard is just past its flowering peak, and the air was full of the white petals, gently drifting down towards the ground.
In my pre-caffeinated state, just for a second there, I thought, “What? Is it snowing? It’s APRIL!!”
The momentary confusion is understandable, yes? It’s a confusing, out-of-order time. We all feel it, and for reasons far more significant than some blowing petals. Things that were supposed to happen, have not. We have missed out. Other things that should not have happened, unanticipated and never wanted, have, in fact, taken place. It all seems out of order.
We worship, though, a God of order. From our imperfect perspectives, it often doesn’t appear that way. We struggle with matching our hope and wishes with reality.
Trust in the Lord is always called for, but not needed when we “get it.” Trust is not relevant when the situation is in hand and predictable, and we have no worries. Trust is what we are called to when it’s hard and the way forward is hard to see. We want to know what’s going to happen, and how.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Because God is a God of order, because all things hold together in him, because his view is complete and perfect, because in the fullness of time his perfect will is accomplished, we can trust him.
“Sovereign” – Chris Tomlin
April 7, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #20:
The little girl made her way from the very top of Yankee Stadium to the temporary platform erected on the playing field. Such a long way to go. Passing by hundreds of spectators was a daunting task but one she willingly made alone. Two, maybe three times she looked back over her shoulder for her grandmother sitting at the top. She was easy to spot, wearing her fancy Sunday church hat and white gloves; her grandmotherly smile reassuring her to continue down to the platform. Carefully inching her way through the pressing throng of people, the singing of the hymn, “Just As I Am”, tenderly drew her closer to the edge of the platform. Standing on tiptoe, she was barely able to see the stately gentleman towering over her. She was standing at the feet of Dr. Billy Graham. Listening intently with her small hands folded in front of her, she learned of salvation, life eternal and God’s love to have forever. She accepted Jesus Christ into her heart. She became transformed in that glorious moment. Total strangers put their arms around her, prayed with and for her. Some were crying. It was time to go back to the top and sit by her grandmother. She did. The year was 1957. The little girl was 8 years old.
Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews, heard Jesus say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus, in his confusion, asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
And so it is with you and me. In this time of confusion and uncertainty, we have the promise that God will provide. He will never leave nor forsake us. His word is truth. May we humbly bow before the throne of Grace, hands folded in front of us and say, “Thank you” to the King of Kings.
April 6, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #19:
Holy Week was different from all other weeks. For us, this Holy Week is different from any we have ever known. In 1971, I spent Holy Week in Vietnam, but we still gathered to worship our Savior. There will be no gathering this week. Instead, like Jesus in the garden, many of us will be alone. Maybe, just maybe, we will take the time to have a deeper connection to our God. Our prayer might be more thoughtful, more personal, more touching. And the confession of our sins might be deeper.
Each time I watch The Passion of the Christ I cry. I used to watch it every Holy Week. But the last few years I find I can’t watch it anymore. It’s just too painful to me. You see each time the whip strikes the back of Jesus, each time the hammer strikes the nail in his hand, I see the pain being endured by my Savior as paying for one of my sins. That I caused that insufferable pain.
The final price that Jesus paid was intolerable - separation from God. He willingly paid that price for you and me.
This Holy Week, so different from any other, take the time to make a personal connection to God. And maybe, just maybe, this will be a Holy Week for you to remember in a very special way.
April 3, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #18:
As I looked out the window this morning I was struck by what a beautiful day it is following such a dreary yesterday. I can’t see them from here but there is a nesting pair of geese at the edge of the pond behind the forsythia, and a couple squirrels racing along the fence. So much new life at a time of such unimaginable death. Isn’t that what Lent is all about? Sacrifice and death on a cross so that we might enjoy, unconditionally, eternal life with our Savior.
As we “shelter in place”, protect and pray for your neighbors, lifting them up for physical and spiritual strength and health. Pray for our medical workers, for those on the “front line”. But be sure to open the blinds, draw up the shades, breathe in the fresh air, look to the blue sky and thank Christ that in death He gave us new life.
April 2, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #17:
The old hymn “When Soldiers Take Their Swords” has been my prayer for doctors and nurses and all the army of health personnel on the frontline. Last verse for those who meet their Lord through this pestilence:
Through life’s conflicts guard us all,
Or if wounded some should fall
Ere the victory be won,
For the sake of Christ, Thy Son,
These Thy children, Lord, defend;
And in death Thy comfort bend.
April 1, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #16:
Every week, included in Sunday's bulletin is a letter from one of our mission partners. Let us continue to pray for them.
A Couple of Christians (Guatemala)
We ask that LPC join us in praying for the families affected directly and indirectly by this event. We pray for the parents trying to occupy children and keep them calm and healthy. We pray for all the medical, retail, and police employees dealing with people. We also pray that the restrictions put in place protect everyone as much as possible in the months ahead.
And of course, we pray people will turn to God in these challenging times, draw closer to Him, and emerge with strengthened faith and hope in Christ.
In Guatemala and the United States.
Thanks for everything. You are all in our prayers, as always!
Pat, Yesenia, and Cata
March 31, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #15:
N.T. Wright, the Gospels, Easter and looking forward with hope.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading a book by NT Wright – Surprised by Scripture. I like reading books by NT Wright because he has ideas that are challenging to understand so I have to really think about what he’s saying. In this book he’s discussing Contemporary Issues like Science & Religion, the Resurrection, Ordaining Women, Evil, Idolatry and Politics.
He starts out discussing the Epicureanism worldview – a worldview in which God, or the Gods, may perhaps exist, but if they do they are far away and remain uninvolved in the world. Therefore, we should live in such a way as to derive the greatest amount of pleasure. He accuses our 20th Century Western culture of adopting this Epicurean philosophy.
This I understand and agree with. It makes sense. But further on in the book he starts discussing the message of the Gospel. And it gets harder to understand…he makes the following statements:
The central message of the gospels- the creator God, Israel’s God, is at last reclaiming the whole world as his own, in and through Jesus of Nazareth.
The point of the four Gospels is that the coming of the Kingdom on earth as in heaven is not to impose an alien and dehumanizing tyranny but rather to conform alien and dehumanizing tyrannies with the news of a God, the God recognized in Jesus- who is radically different from them all, and whose justice aims to rescue and restore genuineness.
Gospel – saving humans so they can be part of this project to save the world; story of God’s public kingdom project.
Wow, what does the Gospel mean in our current COVID-19 world? How does the Coming of God’s Kingdom work in a pandemic? How can I help with God’s public kingdom project? I told you NT has challenging ideas that encourage us to think…..
He ends this book with the following paragraph….
"It is love that believes the resurrection. It is, conversely, the resurrection of Jesus that awakens love – love for him, love for one another, love for God’s world. This is the message of Easter. This is the message of hope. This is the message for, and through, the whole church, through all of us together. This is the message of Jesus. May it be for us, in us, and not least through us."
March 30, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #14
Today on Facebook, a friend posted a message from a doctor friend of hers. We also know him. His message was timely, and in the middle of all the posts and news articles from experts near and far, it was original. And challenging. Wow. How many would give up their package of face masks and take it to the local hospital for the doctors and nurses on the front line? He and his wife are faithful Christians. Here is an excerpt from what he wrote:
It’s time to see what we’re made of… What do we do? Or not do..?
Your local healthcare workers are about to take it on the chin. Pray for them. Text them encouragement. Perhaps most importantly, stay home and don’t be a moron (bless your hearts). Don’t become the patient that tips them over the edge.
If you’ve stocked any N95 or surgical masks, you get one chance to do what’s right and take them to your local hospital. The CDC just gave the okay for healthcare workers to use bandanas when we run out of masks… Do the right thing.
The attitude of concern for others was such a welcome one. I was reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies. With apologies for the length of this devotional and to anyone who never saw the movie, and to those who might not care for a lighter tone, below is a re-write of Aragorn’s speech from the third movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “Return of the King.” The remnants of the army are before the Black Gate, facing what seems to be their certain end:
Hold your ground! Stay at home!
Sons and daughters of the Lord of life, my brothers and sisters!
If we could meet, I am sure I would see in your eyes
the same worry that would take the heart of me.
A day may come when the courage of women and men fail,
when we forsake our love for the other,
and break all bonds of fellowship and care for our fellow citizens,
in the name of self-interest grabbing the last bottle of sanitizer on the shelf
when we already have half a dozen at home,
but it is not this day.
In a season of isolation and making do,
with the corona virus creeping ‘round,
we may be tempted to give in to a doubt and anxiety that infects those around us,
but it is not this day!
This day we pray!!
for one another, for health care workers,
for the people who clean the grocery stores
and restock the shelves,
for those struggling to support their families financially,
for those who are infirm and at higher risk,
and did I say, health care workers?
This day we trust in God and his promises!!
By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,
I bid you stand, followers of Christ! Members of LPC!!! Stay at home, stay home
holding to the assurance that comes from the One We Serve.
This day does not belong to one person, but to all.
We stand together, in the name of Christ.
That we may share in the Days of Peace...
"Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
Movie clip, no violence; just a bunch of men wearing medieval armor:
Lockdown Devotional #13
Devotional Thoughts for Covid 19 world
I was reading an article from the New York Times:
I was struck by the fact that our Creator God is interested in the thermal regulation of butterfly wings.
I thought I would share this amazing photo from the article with you.
Researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities found specialized scales on the living parts of the wing that have tiny, intricate structures allowing them to dissipate heat.
Previous temperature research had focused on the thorax, because butterflies cannot fly if their thorax is too cold. But their thin wings build up heat quickly, and the new research examined how that heat is dispersed so it does not kill the fragile living cells in the wing.
Using imaging techniques, researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities found specialized scales on the living parts of the wing that have tiny, intricate structures allowing them to dissipate heat. This enhanced thermal radiation allows the parts of the wing with living cells to remain cooler than other parts of the wing, by as much as 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the butterflies of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them and keeps their wings cool. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Creator God, Thank you for scientist who can find out about the thermal regulation of the butterflies, for photographers who can take thermal images of these butterflies, but most of all thank you that you care about the details of butterflies—help us remember all the issues that seem so “hot” to us—you regulate our details. THANK YOU.
Lockdown Devotional #12:
March 28, 2020
What Is God doing?
Natural question for these times, even the most unbelieving among us must be asking this question. I am too but I am couching my questioning in Scripture. Question, can you think of times and events in Scripture where what was happening just didn’t make sense, especially to the people living at the time? During these events I can imagine them saying, “What is God doing?” I can think of three, two in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament (you’ll have to ask me if interested). Each of the events seen in hindsight, and only in hindsight, made sense, but not at the time, not to the participants. Bottom line as I ponder current events, “What is God doing?”, well back to Scripture, the Biblical characters didn’t know at the time and certainly I don’t know during this time. But humble faithfulness to God in the midst of this questioning is what was required then, and what is required of us now. In conclusion consider Job, can’t you imagine him saying “What are you doing God?” By far two of my favorite Chapters in Scripture are Job 38 and 39 starting with “Then the Lord answered Job...”, an answer for Job, finally! Read the chapters for yourself, Chapters 40 and on give you a look into Jobs response to the Lord’s answer, it was humble faithfulness, may We, may I, be found with the same response in whatever the times ahead bring.
Lockdown Devotional #11
March 27, 2020
Reading Maureen Sweeney’s devotional and listening to Micah Tyler’s powerful song "Different" (Lockdown Devotional #7), made me think of a song that came to mind this morning while I was taking a walk in the rain.
I was thinking about how powerful scripture is and how spending more time in God’s word during this time of staying at home was having a nice impact. And a song popped into my head. It’s an old, simple, children’s song. And while it went through my mind one little change was made.
Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so
“Older ones” to him belong,
“They may be weak” but he is strong.
Yes Jesus loves me,
Yes Jesus loves me,
Yes Jesus loves me,
The Bible tells me so.
And of course the next song that popped into my mind was:
Yes that’s the book for me,
I stand upon the word of God,
In this time of unprecedented social separation, and pandemic, sometimes its best to go back to the basics of our faith. Read scripture, sing praises to God, and remain constantly in prayer.
Lockdown Devotional #10
March 26, 2020
The title of this devotional is “When Peace Feels Impossible.” It was written by Lysa Terkeurst, paraphrased by myself and with my thoughts interjected.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock” Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV)
The devotional speaks to how turning to our feelings to steady our souls instead of turning to truth is dangerous ground. It’s like we’re addressing God’s goodness based on how we feel. This is dangerous because feelings are fragile, change on a whim depending on circumstance, and can be based on our moods and many distracting factors. God’s truth is unchanging, solid, perfect even when life feels like it’s falling apart. Believe me, the battle between my feelings and circumstances and God’s Truth is daily for me, but He speaks clearly. Perfect Peace.
Isaiah 26 Isaiah knows while things may not look good right now, God promises us His plans are good. He is moving us toward that day when death will be swallowed up, and He will wipe every tear from our eyes (Isaiah 25:8). He has ordained our peace (Isaiah 26:12). But we aren’t just promised peace on the other side of eternity. In the today’s verse, Isaiah tells us how we can experience and walk in strength and peace today.
The English phrase “perfect peace” means an “all-embracing peace.” It is God, by the power of His indwelling Spirit, giving us the strength internally to face whatever comes our way externally. This doesn’t mean our circumstances will feel peaceful. Nor does it mean the prayers we pray suddenly all get answered. But what it does mean is our mind can be steadied with Truth instead of overrun with thoughts of fear, anxiety and worst-case scenarios.
Lockdown Devotional #9
March 25, 2020
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord ! (Psalm 27:13, 14 ESV).
God has given me the Holy Spirit through his grace alone, which in itself is the ultimate “goodness of the Lord”. The Holy Spirit also equips me to see the goodness of the Lord because it inclines me to the Lord - to find it. Additionally, the Psalm says we are to wait for the Lord (by faith) to see the goodness, which could be many things - such as opportunities he lays before us. In these times of lock outs, shutdowns, and forced togetherness or separation can we see the goodness of the Lord? Is this an opportunity to recalibrate our “normal” to what God teaches it should be? Should we spend more time with family and less in front of a screen? Should we eat as a family and less on the run with cell phone in hand? Should we finally carve out time to pray? How about calling that supposed friend you been meaning to call or resolve a strained relationship? Finally, the Psalm says (my twist) we should be courageous in our waiting; in other words do not be impatient with God, the goodness, whatever it is will come in his time, as promised.
Lockdown Devotional #8
March 24, 2020
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. (ESV)
Back in 1997 I was led to this at a extremely low time in my life. Given the emotional, political, economic and physical environment today, many of us can relate. Peaceful anxiety: I’m anxious because there is nothing I can do about it; I’m peaceful because there is nothing I can do about it.
From Bill Brown on a morning walk
Lockdown Devotional #7
March 23, 2020
My devotional for today is the testimonial, song, and bible verse as presented by Micah Tyler in the link below. The song ends with the bible verse Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I came upon this video last year as I was praying through whatever my problem was at that time. I do not remember what the problem was about, but I do remember that listening to this song helped me to transform from my worldly view of the problem into the Lord's view of the problem as something He was choosing to walk WITH me through. After this transformed view, I was at peace with the situation. My prayer right now is that this song may help others to find peace as the Lord walks WITH us through the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Micah Tyler - Different
Lockdown Devotional #6
March 22, 2020
I wanted to send along this devotional I read today. I have made a point to enjoy the coming of spring and what a blessing it is to be home and see the beauty! I have started taking daily “signs of spring” photos.
Natural Beauty from Daily Bible Inspirations
Here are some of the photos I’ve taken.
Lenten Rose in my yard
My magnolia tree
Lily of the valley bush in my neighborhood
Lockdown Devotional #5
March 21, 2020
Don Leypoldt, Jr.
I love sports ministry because athletics are a vehicle to teach Biblical and life lessons. This June 2nd marks the 10th anniversary of a powerful, real life instruction in grace.
A perfect game is one of baseball’s most difficult achievements. It means that all 27 batters that a pitcher faces gets out and no one gets on base. There have only been 23 perfect games in the 130+ year history of Major League baseball.
But it looked like Armando Galarraga was going to throw one on June 2nd, 2010. The Detroit Tiger pitcher had gotten 26 outs in a row, and the last batter-Jason Donald- hit a routine ground ball back to Galarraga. The pitcher threw Donald out at a close play at first base to end the game.
So everyone thought.
Yet Jim Joyce, a highly respected umpire, called Donald “safe” even though video replay clearly showed Donald was out.
Galarraga’s reaction embodied Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (ESV)
After the initial shock of the call wore off, Galarraga calmly got the next batter out to end the game. After the game, he passed on ample opportunities to criticize Joyce, instead telling reporters "Nobody's perfect. I understand. I feel for the guy." When Joyce saw the video of the play after the game, he broke down in tears and apologized to Galarraga in both English and Spanish. Galarraga gave him a hug and said, “We are all human.”
The next day, Galarraga delivered the line up card to Joyce in a public display of forgiveness. The two later teamed up to write a book called “Nobody’s Perfect.”
These are frustrating and scary times right now. It is easy to worry about health and complain about constraints and aggravation. That is not what Christians are instructed to do. Galarraga’s exemplary behavior is a reminder of Paul’s admonition. There is still the lovely, the commendable and the excellent out there, and by turning our focus and practice on those, God’s peace will indeed be with us.
Lockdown Devotional #4
March 20, 2020
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
How appropriate that this should be the verse that popped up in the Bible Gateway daily verse.
What comes to mind as I reflect on these verses is "TRUST." We are called to trust the Lord even in the direst of circumstances. In the last three decades of my life, I have learned the world can take so much from us. The list is long: our ability to worship together (during Lent of all times), our lives, our loved ones, our health, our homes, our jobs, our savings, etc. How depressing!
Yet, verse two reminds me there are things on which this world has no claim. How thankful I am the list is just as long (maybe longer): our faith, our joy, our hope, the gift of grace, our salvation, our ability to worship at a distance, our ability to pray and trust the Lord. However, above all else, I am thankful that our story, bothers and sisters, will always remain the same: "And they lived happily ever after with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in Heaven. Hallelujah!" Of what then shall I want or desire?
Lockdown Devotional #3
March 19, 2020
And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
1 Chronicles 21:13-15
May our hearts be the Altar where the Holy Spirit Intercedes for the world.
And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the Lord ; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering. So the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.
1 Chronicles 21:26-27
Lockdown Devotional #2
The very day the invitation to submit Lockdown Devotionals arrived in my inbox, my personal devotional was based on Psalm 3. As is often the case, the psalm begins with the problem, reasons for fear and anxiety. And then, the voice of the psalmist changes his tune to one that recognizes and praises God.
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill.
In these coronavirus days, we don’t have human enemies but emotional foes. Fear, anxiety, the unknown looms before us. Just as for the psalmist, God’s shield for us is spiritual. The “shield” around is not a magic bubble of physical protection, but the very nature of God’s being and the reason for our own.
Trusting in him does not mean there will be no trials in our own lives. It means with him always and everywhere present in them, we have every reason to look towards him and not fear. He is glorious, the reason to lift our heads and look toward him in trust. He sustains us (v. 5), we will not be afraid (v. 6).
The author of my devotional* wrote this:
When a believer gazes too long at his enemies, the force arrayed against him seems to grow in size until it appears to be overwhelming. But when he turns his thoughts to God, God is seen in his true, great stature, and the enemies shrink to manageable proportions.
* Come To The Waters, by James Montgomery Boice
March 17, 2020
Lockdown Devotional #1:
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:28-33)
It’s a rainy March morning, but still the daffodils call out reminding me not to be anxious and of the care of my heavenly Father. “Consider the lilies…” Do I not consider my world? Do I not consider the threat of the unknown and the plight of our friends close to home and in Guatemala, Burundi, Brazil, the Philippines, the Bucks County Jail, and North Philadelphia? Of course, consider them all. Consider our lives in a time like no other. Pray. Seek the Kingdom. Act (stay home, reach out to a lonely friend by phone, email, or text message). Pray some more. “Do not be anxious,” Jesus said.
The daffodils are blooming. Consider them.