Written by Janet Willig - Heartland Church of Fort Wayne
Hebrews 4:16 (NASB) “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
At some point during most Sunday services at Heartland, two-year-old Zadok Frincke marches across the front of the auditorium and straight into Pastor Dave’s welcoming arms. It makes no difference to him if it’s during worship, communion, or in the middle of his daddy’s sermon. He knows he will always be received with a smile and a hug.
When Zadok was just learning to walk, his gait was unsteady, and he would often snuggle longer with his dad. Now he strides confidently, and usually he lingers for only a short time before he’s ready to be set down and released to his next adventure. Zadok can be confident because he has learned that his daddy is always happy to scoop him up and hold him as long as he wants.
Many of us smile as we watch Zadok because he’s cute! However, Pastor Dave drew a powerful spiritual analogy, which makes those weekly treks much more than simply cute. We can see in Zadok’s approach and Dave’s response a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father’s love for us. Each of us can approach God with childlike faith knowing that He is there for us. It makes no difference whether we’re hesitant and unsteady or confidently “touching base” before heading off to our next adventure. He’s always available, always ready to scoop us up, and always happy to hold us as long as we want or need.
Now sometimes when I watch that adorable little boy make a beeline for his daddy, I close my eyes and whisper, “Abba, Father.”
Lord, thank you that you are indeed our loving Heavenly Father. Please help us to remember that we can always come to you in childlike faith—with full confidence.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
A bit more than a year ago, October 16, 2018 to be exact, I wrote an article I called, “How Do You Keep a Tree From Dying?” The inspiration for that article was a large white pine tree which is a prominent feature of our front yard. At that time, the tree appeared to be dying. Its needles were turning brown and falling off, wholesale. I mentioned then that I had inquired of others, and several agreed with me, that the tree had reached the end of its life; I couldn’t bear to think of loosing that tree.
Well, from where I typically sit to write, I can look out my front window, and that pine tree still fills my whole view. It is as full of needles as it could be and looking as healthy as any I have seen. To see this tree in all its splendor, I have to walk out to the edge of my porch, lean out and look upward about 80 to100 feet. Better yet, I could walk the hundred yards of my driveway and look back to where I can see this tree in its full height and breadth. Did I say, it is a particularly beautiful tree? And its still alive!
All through last winter, I kept thinking that I would have to get someone to cut it down for me, yet my spirit kept saying, “Don’t get hasty, let’s see what God is doing.” And sure enough, when spring came, even while more dry needles were falling off, the new growth was evident and new needles began to replace the old ones. A few days ago, I had walked to the mailbox and, as I was returning, I stopped to enjoy the woodland surroundings (okay, I had to catch my breath) when, once again, my eyes focused on this tree. I thought I heard it whisper. “I’m still here!”
But then, maybe it wasn’t the tree I was hearing at all. Instead, it could have been the Lord speaking to me, reminding me of that truth. You see, it has not been a particularly good year for me, or for that matter, for many around me in regard to human life and times. Perhaps many of us are experiencing similar situations. I am rapidly approaching the end of my 7th decade and I seem to be spending far too many hours visiting folks in hospitals and funeral homes. I am a semi-retired priest and the majority of church services I have celebrated recently have been funerals and life memorials. These are sad times for the families involved, yet they are also times when the Lord reminds us that He is still here.
In that October 2018 message, I drew from the Book of Job where God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” This being part of a strong reminder that God is in charge and He has His purpose. If we keep our faith in Him, we will one day understand. We will be with Him for eternity.
Today, I am again reminded of the faithfulness of God. (He heard my cries and restored one single tree, perhaps for no other reason than He loves me.) In this event, I also hear the voice of Lord reminding me of the timelessness of God, that “to everything there is a season;” (Eccl. 3) and He hasn’t asked me to be in charge of this or any season. He does allow me to enjoy them.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, I can’t predict how long my pine tree will continue to stand erect to welcome me each morning. Current indications are that it will be for the rest of my life and beyond. Yet it could be no longer than the next windstorm. One thing I am quite certain of is that, whenever I am able to humble myself before him and continue to acknowledge that He is Lord of my life, and when I am able to listen, I will hear His comforting voice proclaiming, “I am still here.” And that is sufficient for me!
Written by Kate Krumreig
No fancy words this week. Just two simple questions to ponder:
Written by Kate Krumreig
Are you someone who likes to make resolutions as a new year begins?
I am not.
In fact, if I'm being brutally honest, I sometimes scoff to myself when I hear or see others share their resolutions. I think, "Yeah right, good luck with that one. Let's see how long that lasts." I know that is incredibly wrong of me; Who am I to judge? Who am I to put people down behind their back? Would I appreciate someone not believing in me when I am committed to a healthy change in my life? NO! I should never assume someone will be unsuccessful in their goals, especially when they are excited to better themselves. I guess I'm just someone who struggles to see the point in making a plan that will, most likely, become a disappointment. I cannot stand to disappoint others and I very much cannot stand disappointing myself.
Wow, Kate. What are you even talking about? These are miserable words to ponder as we begin a new year in the Lord. I think I'll stop reading now.
Yeah. I don't blame you for wanting to stop. I wouldn't want to keep reading either if I were you...except that, as I've been typing, Jesus has been giving me that "Keep going. You'll get to My point" feeling in my stomach. Ever had that? It's a pretty convicting feeling.
As I've been writing today, He has been reminding me of my incredibly imperfect human nature and His unfathomably perfect ability to forgive. It is only through Him that we can be forgiven of our sins. We read in 1 John (1:5-9):
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I do not claim to be without sin. Father God, I am a sinner. I am most definitely a sinner. I confess that I have sinned against you and ask for forgiveness, Lord, for my ill thoughts towards others who want nothing more than to do good and be well. I ask that you guide my heart and my mind to do Your will. Help me today and each day to bring glory to Your name. Amen.
I suppose I should rethink that new year resolution thing. What can I resolve to do that will bring glory to my King in 2020? Maybe I should resolve to think before I think, speak, and act? Perhaps I should resolve to spend more time encouraging others and walking with them in their journey?
What will you resolve to do this year for the Lord?