One way God is talking to you right now by PASTOR JON HUIZENGA River Rock Church I was camping the other night, out in the woods, at 11 p.m., away from light. The night sky was beautiful. I identified a few constellations and wished I knew more. The sight distances are so vast! I regretted how many nights I settle for a ceiling over my head, artificial light, and some screen with its shallow content. God talks outdoors! Look in the sky at night and you can almost hear God quietly and powerfully say, “Yes, I am here.” Did you know that the Bible says God talks outdoors? Here it is, Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech. Night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” Look for God outdoors. He is there speaking about his majesty. It is a shame to miss him, so look. You spend too much time indoors: Ceiling above your head, artificial light, building sounds (fans, pumps, compressors), indoor smells (cologne, food, staleness). Have you noticed how being outdoors relaxes you? The sky is big. The smells are nice (usually). The light is pleasant. One thing you miss indoors is that sense of power. God is speaking about his vastness and his power out there in the sky and we humans stay in our rectangular rooms. Of course, we have to go to work. Of course, we must escape harsh weather. But God talks outdoors in a way that we shouldn’t miss. One more thing: No matter where you are on planet Earth, no matter what language people are speaking, no matter what culture is present, human beings are hearing this voice of God. Tom in Michigan and Kaaya in Tanzania hear the same God-voice in a language they can understand. Soon it will be getting colder and you will have to put forth more effort to be out there. Now, however, it is easy to get out there. Go outside! God is waiting to talk to you. Oh, and while you are out there, say “Hi” back.
A weekly inspirational message
Here Come the Pumpkins by REV. HELEN H. COLLINS North Kent Presbyterian Church If you have driven or walked on Kuttshill past North Kent Presbyterian Church in the last few months, you have probably noticed that we turned some of the land around our church into quite a pumpkin patch. Odd thing for a church to do, I suppose, but we had very good reasons. There’s also a big pumpkin sign that says, “Come Grow with Us.” The pumpkin drawing is courtesy of one of our church preschool kids. So, we’re growing pumpkins as a fundraiser, and we hope we’re attracting some attention so that people will know we’re here and that anyone and everyone is welcome to join us. But here’s the thing about pumpkins: Better than any of the other fruits and vegetables God gave us, the pumpkin reveals some wonderful truths about our relationship with God. The best and most common use for pumpkins is for making Jack o’lanterns. (They make great pie too, but that’s another story.) You start by cleaning off the pumpkin, getting rid of any of the garden dirt. Then you cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin and clean out the inside. It can be a messy thing to reach in there and pull out all the yucky, slimy stuff and the seeds, but you have to do it so that you can carve a face. When I did that as a child, I always wanted to give my pumpkin a smile to start with, then a nose which usually ended up looking like a triangle, and finally some eyes. We would put our pumpkins in the living room window so they faced the street, and mom would let us put a candle inside so that people could really see the face lit up as they went by. Several years ago a piece ran around the e-mail circuit with the story of the pumpkin and how it demonstrates what God does with us when we give our lives to Him. First, Jesus picks us up and cleanses our life from sin. He removes all the yucky thoughts and the seeds of doubt, hate and selfishness that we have inside. Then he puts a smile on […]
Staying on course—paddle! by MARCIA HUFSTADER Member, Third Church of Christ, Scientist Yesterday some friends and I were kayaking in a big lake. The waves weren’t huge, but significant, and the wind was blowing. In order to stay on our course we had to keep paddling. If we stopped paddling we’d get blown off course, lose ground and be broadside to the waves. There was no urgency to what we were doing and no danger; we were having a great time, but it definitely reinforced a metaphor for life for me. Sometimes it seems when goals are set there are obstacles in the way, “outside forces” that distract, and problems that arise and slow the process down. If those are the waves and the wind, what do you do? You keep paddling! The “paddling” of life comes in many forms. For me it’s prayer—a deep recognition and contemplation of God being good and being all and directing each of my steps. Recognizing that God is all good, that He is so loving that we can think of “Love” as a name for Him, and understanding that He is the governing divine Principle of the universe including all of his children, helps me let go of human will and trust His direction. Because God, who is good, is an infinite intelligence or divine Mind, why would I look to another source for intelligence or direction? I have found human will to be one of the biggest winds and waves of life that slows down my growth. Human will and preconceived notions of what is right are obstacles that keep me from seeing God’s purpose and direction for me. When I change my thought and look to Him for help I find the paddling is without fear and safe, joyful and fulfilling. The paddling (praying) takes work, diligence and perseverance and the obstacles sometimes seem to never end, but eventually I do get better at negotiating them. Referring to Jesus’ struggles, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Yet he swerved not, well knowing that to obey the divine order and trust God, saves retracing and traversing anew the path from sin to holiness.” Christ Jesus stuck to his course with humble prayers and unconditional love through the assurance of […]
Shouldn’t God expect our best? by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Some children were playing with an old replica of Noah’s ark from VBS and all the animals in miniature. In their conversation about Noah, they remembered that Noah sacrificed some of the animals on the altar as a thank offering for God’s special love that called them, protected them, and delivered them from the great flood. So they decided that they would do same and, without mom or dad’s notice, they built a small fire and sacrificed their defective or broken toys: a camel that had no legs, a giraffe that had lost its head and neck, a boat with a broken hull. Now you may be smiling as I was when I heard this story. Smiling and thinking that it sounds just like kids. When a professor of mine finished telling this story to a church full of people, he smiled and said, “Cute kids, eh?” But then his smile faded and with a pondering face he asked, “Do you think God looks at our often defective and broken sacrifices—and smiles? Does the Lord God who says ‘Your lamb shall be without blemish [Exs 12:5],’ smile at our second rate, and often bottom-of-the-barrel offerings and says: ‘CUTE KIDS!’” Let’s look at it from a different perspective. How cute is it when a husband or a wife thinks, expects and lives for themselves in deference to and the neglect of the spouse they’re supposed to love? How cute it is when a parent spends the vast majority of their income and time on themselves to the neglect of the child they’re supposed to love and care for? How cute is it when a person will only talk with you when they need you to do something for them? So then the questions must be laid upon us: How cute is it when a believer thinks, expects and lives for themselves in deference to and the neglect of the Lord and Savior they’re suppose to love? How cute it is when a believer spends the vast majority of their income and time on themselves to the neglect of the church they’re supposed to love and care for? How cute is it when […]
LeBron James, Jerry Sandusky, and things that matter by REV. ROBERT ECKERT Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church I was a fan of LeBron James when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I like to root for underdogs, and the Cavs—until James arrived—had been as unlikely title contenders as the NBA has ever known. Even if it would have come at the expense of the Pistons, I would have been happy to see him carry his team to a championship. Then came “The Decision” and I’ve hated LeBron James ever since. Yup, I said “hate.” I know it’s a strong word, but that’s the beauty of professional sports in America. We can love and hate whomever we want for whatever reason we want; it’s totally arbitrary. So naturally I was disappointed when the Miami Heat won the NBA championship back on June 21 and dreaded the hoopla that began as soon as LeBron had his ring. But the spotlight was soon pointed elsewhere. On June 22, Jerry Sandusky, Penn State University football defensive coordinator, was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. “THAT will get LeBron James off the front page,” I thought. “If he had to win, at least he won’t get to bask in the afterglow.” What!? Was that really the first thing that came to my mind upon hearing the next painful chapter in a devastating tragedy that will have an impact on its victims, its perpetrator, their families and other personal and professional friends and acquaintances for years to come!? I’m embarrassed that I’ve allowed the hype of our national obsession with sports to blur my vision of what’s silly and what’s significant. I’m saddened to realize that I’ve allowed the over-saturation of lurid stories that bombard us daily to anesthetize me to the real pain that lies behind such stories. The unexpected death of a member of our church three days after the Sandusky verdict helped snap me back to what really matters. But that shouldn’t have been necessary. In Hebrew scripture, the prophet Ezekiel attributes to God this intention for the people of God’s creation: “I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” How is it that any of us can hold […]