Archive for March, 2021

Listening To God


Written by Pat Grant.

Lent is meant to be a time of solitude and reflection in preparation for the burst of shining glory and abundance of Easter to come. In bygone years of an agrarian society, the land was left fallow.  Crops would be planted when the sun warmed the earth. Lent meant “slow” and through the grey days, everything slowed down and waited. No barn dances, no socials, no potlucks. The year just passed has certainly resembled a prolonged Lenten season in many ways. It has been a time of concern about the future and every other person on the planet. It has introduced us to a life with no barn dances, no socials, no potlucks.

The past year often felt unreal to me and only God was real. God is never closer than when things get grim. And this year was grim.   One of my favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 6:8.  “ I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’“ Isaiah hears, and he volunteers. But no matter how hard I try, I don’t hear any special instructions for me. Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest“ suggests that if we don’t hear, the reason is we’re doing all the talking. In the midst of his hard times, Isaiah listens to the Lord and that’s the secret of two-way communication. 

— “Stop talking, Pat.  Listen.”   —”I’ll try!”


This prayer is from the Gallican Sacramentary. an historical version of Christian liturgy within the Latin church in the 1st Millenium.

O God,

you are the author of love,

and you love pure peace and affection.

Heal the diseases of all Christians who are sick,

and in your great mercy set free

all who are terrified by fears,

afflicted by poverty,

weary with trouble,

worn down by illness,

burdened with punishment,

and all prisoners and wanderers.

Show them your compassion daily,

lift them up, correct them,

and protect them.


Do Not Be Afraid For I Have Redeemed You: Marilla Ness. Written by Gerald Markland in 2008 and is based on Isaiah 43:1-2.

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Forgive Them


Written by Jack Graham, a contemporary pastor and author.

As we all know, words are powerful… especially dying words. And as we near Easter Sunday, it’s important that each of us remembers just exactly what Jesus had to say right before His earthly life ended. One of the last things Jesus said while hanging from the cross were words of forgiveness. Today I want to ask you, if Christ could pray a prayer of forgiveness for those who were putting Him to death, can you pray a prayer of forgiveness for those in your life who mistreat you? Despite what you may be going through today, can you look past your own “junk” and extend forgiveness to others?

Jesus’ dying words on the cross are a powerful example of how you and I ought to treat those who mistreat us. Are you willing to follow His perfect example in every area of your life today? Will you extend forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it? I challenge you to pick up your cross today… and live out the life of forgiveness Christ has given you! 


Written by Kristine Brown, a contemporary Christian author and speaker.

Dear Merciful Lord, thank you for your gift of forgiveness. Your only Son loved me enough to come to earth and experience the worst pain imaginable so I could be forgiven. Your mercy flows to me in spite of my faults and failures. Your Word says to “clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Help me demonstrate unconditional love today, even to those who hurt me. 


Forgiveness: Matthew West. Written by Matthew West in 2012.

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Written by Michael Dyer.

It is amazing how unexpected interruptions in one’s life can contribute to important personal change. I recently contracted Covid-19. Fortunately, my symptoms were very mild. The main consequence of it for me was a forced quarantine. Normal activities both inside and outside my residence were prohibited for TWO WEEKS. A completely new schedule of activities was required. I was like a university professor on sabbatical!

Fortunately, the disruption gave me the opportunity to develop a few spiritual habits to prioritize time with God in my daily schedule, to devote more time to reading the scriptures and reflecting on the passages, and prayer. I began with small steps…starting the day with the Village Church Daily Devotional I receive via email. I started compiling a prayer list and reading a few psalms to start my day. Psalm 51 was a staple. Next, I scheduled time to watch the weekly Bible Study on Romans that our Pastoral Staff prepares.  Finally, I resolved to refer to my prayer list three times per day to ask for God’s favor and healing power to be granted to myself and others in specific need. Amazingly, I had time to do this yet ample time remained during the day for other tasks and duties. An interruption in my schedule to address a personal health issue instead contributed even more greatly to an improvement in my spiritual health. This is a daily routine I plan to continue with, even when the COVID crisis passes.  Our God works in mysterious ways….what a blessing!


From the Gallican Sacramentary, an historical version of Christian liturgy within the Latin church in the 1st millennium.

O God, set us on fire with your Spirit. Strengthen us with your power. Enlighten us with your splendor. Fill us with your grace. Draw us forward with your help.

O Lord, give us a right faith, perfect love, true humility. O Lord, give us simple affection, brave patience, persevering obedience, perpetual peace, a pure mind, a right and clean heart, a good will, a sharpened conscience, spiritual strength, a life unspotted and blameless. And having finished the course, enter your kingdom by your grace. Amen.


Psalm 51: Jason Silver.  Psalm 51 is put to music, as arranged by Jason Silver.

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Singleness of Focus


Written by Eugene Peterson (1932-2018), an American theologian, minister, author, and poet best known for The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language.  This is an excerpt from his book “God’s Message for Each Day.”

God is not one among many. When we pray we are not covering our bases. Prayer is not a way of checking out a last resort of potential help. We understandably want to explore all the options: we write letters, make telephone calls, visit prospects, arrange interviews. We don’t know who might be useful to us at any one time. Of course, we cultivate God. But not in prayer. We try it, but it doesn’t work. Prayer is exclusive. Prayer is centering… We can’t pray with one eye on the main chance and a side glance for God. Prayer trains the soul to singleness of focus: for God alone. The Psalms were not prayed by people trying to understand themselves. They are not the record of people searching for the meaning of life. They were prayed by people who understood that God had everything to do with them. God, not their feelings, was the center. God, not their souls, was the issue. God, not the meaning of life, was critical. Feelings, souls, and meanings were not excluded — they are very much in evidence — but they are not the reason for the prayers. Human experiences might provoke the prayers, but they do not condition them as prayers.  

The Israelites didn’t think they could sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. But they did. My, how they did! How did they do it?… They immersed themselves in Torah-meditation: before they knew it they were praying. They were trees. Transplanted to Babylon they put down roots, put out leaves, and produced fruit.  We all suppose that we could pray, or pray better, if we were in the right place. We put off praying until we are where we think we should be, or want to be. We let our fantasies, or our circumstances, distract us from attending to the word of God that is aimed right where we are, and invites our answers from that spot.  My soul waits. Another will is greater, wiser and more intelligent than my own. So, I wait. Waiting means there is another whom I trust and from whom I receive. My will, important and essential as it is, finds a will that is more important, more essential…I begin to pray by attempting to manipulate the will of God. I end by putting myself in a position to be moved by His will. Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.  


This prayer is from a 6th century collection of prayers.

Bless all who worship You, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same. Of Your goodness, give us; with Your love, inspire us, by Your spirit guide us; by Your power, protect us; in Your mercy receive us now and always. Amen.


The Lord’s Prayer: Charlotte Church. The performance was recorded live from Jerusalem in 2001.

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God in the Wilderness


Written by Sarina Odden Meyer, a contemporary American pastor, and author.

Many of us have experienced a wilderness in life—a time of trial or difficulty that forced us to drill down to the essentials of who we are, especially we who are in Christ. That is what the Israelites experienced in the wilderness. They were totally dependent on God. Their dependence was always at the forefront of their minds, because they were literally helpless without God’s provision. As they neared the land of plenty, God exhorted them to continue to follow God’s commandments, to continue to live in the fear of the Lord. Living in the fear of the Lord is a liberating concept. It is an invitation to worry only about what God thinks over and above what anyone else thinks, even ourselves. Times of wilderness are often blessings that bring us back to the essentials of who we are in Christ. It’s times of plenty that we have to worry about. In times of plenty, we think we can strike out on our own and live by the bread we make with our own hands. Instead of blessing God for all that God has given to us, we go astray, no longer living for God but living for ourselves or other people. As we approach a time of plenty, we are reminded to  “Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God” [Deuteronomy 8:11]. God has called each one of us uniquely to participate in the redemption of the world. When we forget God and start living for other things or other people, we forsake that which God has uniquely called us to do. During Lent, let us fast from the fear of other people, the fear of other things, even the fear of our own thoughts. Let us instead turn back to God and live in the fear of God only by remembering that “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 


Written by Sarina Odden Meyer, author of our meditation.

Gracious God, you know how easy it is for us to be driven by the fear of other people, other things, and even our own thoughts. Help us to be motivated instead only in fear of you. Help us to see that fearing you is an invitation to living fully into the calling you have uniquely given to us. Help us to seek you in times of wilderness and in times of plenty, so that in all the times we live through we will faithfully reflect your love in the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Softly and Tenderly: Kristyn Getty, Vince Gill, Ellie Holcomb, Sierra Hull. The song is from a collection of hymns and lullabies the Gettys use to close each day with their own families. The hymn was written by Will Thompson in 1880.

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Caring For Jesus


Written by Ruth Grendell.

I am fortunate that I had a faculty position at a Christian University for several years. We were encouraged to begin or end each class with a devotional message. A favorite poem that was given to me as a student nurse is one that I have read to my students and Navy Corpsmen every Lenten season. Although it was written for nurses, I trust that the readers can consider that it is meant for them as they care for others throughout their lives.

One Friday on Calvary, as in a hospital ward, three men lay dying—among them Our Lord.

It was the worst case of neglect ever recorded; these patients whose pain Pilate had ordered

On three hard beds in the shape of a Cross without pillow or blanket, none would endorse.

Now the One in the Center, Jesus of Nazareth, the chart gave His name & diagnosis: 

Excessive love for the whole of mankind; unsterilized nails pierced His feet and His wrists.

Consider the cruel medication—vinegar and gall were His Lips ‘levitation.

His back men wounded by blows and welts; no soothing ointment relieved the hurts.

No cold compress was applied to His eyes. The world’s greatest lover just hangs there and dies.

Not a grain of morphine, not a tourniquet set, as God’s Son slowly bleeds to death.

The chart then concluded: “The sad Man from Nazareth died about three.” 

Now don‘t blame the Jews for this frightful neglect.  Our sins did it all; our sins do it yet!

This treatment of Christ demands reparation:  It falls to all of you of this generation.

Whenever you see anyone in pain– Just make believe it is Calvary again.

And do for the person what you wish they had done–for the Man in the center:

                                                 The Innocent one.

Remember in caring for others you really cared/nursed HIM!


From the Mozarabic Rite, a liturgical rite of the Latin Church once used generally in the Iberian Peninsula (Hispania), in what is now Spain and Portugal  in the 500s AD.

Jesus, our Lord and our God,
you gave your cheek to those who struck you
and for our sake you endured much mockery.
Grant that following the example of your sufferings,
we may be courageous in bearing our own,
and learn from you,
for you are meek and lowly in heart;
you now reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.


I Need Thee Every Hour: Fernando Ortega.  Written by Annie Sherwood Hawks in 1872. The hymn reflects a feeling of nearness to God she experienced.

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Written by Macrina Wiederkehr, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from her book “A Tree Full of Angels.”

Conversion is what happens between birth and death. By putting emphasis on conversion as a process, I do not mean to disclaim the many accounts of people being suddenly and mysteriously touched by God and changed tremendously. There are too many stories of radical change in people’s lives to take them lightly. However, even people who have had a dramatic encounter with the Divine, still must go through that daily purifying process of continued conversion. A deep and lasting conversion is a process, an unfolding, a slow turning and turning again. We are saved every day. We are saved from our self-righteousness, our narrow minds, our own wills, our obstinate clinging. We are saved from our blindness. Salvation stands before us at every moment. It meets us face to face. It asks us to make a choice. Do we have the courage to accept it? It is costly, yet it brings life. The cross is always costly. It costs us our lives. The dust of our Lenten ashes turns before our very eyes into Easter glory. Our frailty fades into splendor. Our life given becomes life received and renewed.

Transformation! This is a wondrous, glorious truth. It is the Paschal Mystery. Life meets death. Death meets resurrection. This is our hope. We are frail and glorious creatures. Our frailty need not cripple us; our glory need not be denied. Embraced and cherished as part of the process that we are, these qualities become God’s greatest advantage in our lives.


Written by Max Lucado, a contemporary author, writer, and pastor.

Father, forgive us for being witnesses of your majesty and yet living as though you do not exist. Forgive us, Lord, when we put more hope in the things of this earth than in the incredible promises of your heaven. Have mercy on our hardened hearts. Transform us into your likeness. Amen.


The Change in Me: Casting Crowns. Written by Mark Hall and Jason Ingram in 2018.

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Hope In Jesus


Written by Nanci Hoffman.

In a way to me, it seems like the end of the world, the end of the world as I knew it. The news tells us every minute there are 10 more cases of Covid-19 in Los Angeles. Tami, my middle daughter Lives there and flies as a flight attendant out of LAX. Despite the efforts the airlines are taking to keep their planes sanitized, she knows some flight attendants are being infected with this disease. I am 82 and realize that my days are numbered; however, I am sure there are many like me who didn’t think our last days would be spent living with masks over our faces, unable to sing in the choir at worship services at church, unable to enjoy meals with our families and at our favorite restaurants. I wish I could visit with my son and his family, whom I haven’t seen for over a year… my daughter and her family live only 30 minutes away, and yet our time together has also been severely impacted. I could go on and on, but the point is obvious….it isn’t the end-of-life days I expected. And I know I speak for us all–life is different. On top of the pandemic is the political upheaval. I remember the days when the worst news on TV was an earthquake on an island I didn’t even know the name of… or even 9/11 which affected a family in our church, and we prayed for them, loved them but then went on with our lives. No matter which side we are on, the constant debilitating news is so disturbing. It seems peace is so far away for our nation. I remember with joy in my heart those carefree days growing up in New Haven, Conn., listening to the Yankees play baseball, eating watermelon with so many families on our block, going to school, restaurants, basketball games. I remember lording it as a senior in high school, which now my grandchildren can’t do. Indeed, those were to good ole days. And I miss them.

But….Jesus hasn’t changed!!! He is still there when I open my heart to Him  and pour out my frustration at these days. He listens when I ask Him to protect my children and grandchildren in this changing world. I know He is with those who are so severely affected by the pandemic and other tragedies these days. I thank Him daily for the beautiful flowers and magnificent sunsets He is blessing us with!  I see so much to be thankful for despite the grave problems of our reality.  How could I possibly live if I didn’t know Jesus has us in the palm of His hand. And Jesus is my constant companion during this difficult period of staying home. I join Tami in singing “I have the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart, I have the love of Jesus down in my heart, down in my heart, TO STAY!!!  Sing with us!!!!


Written by Emilie Griffin, a contemporary Christian author.

Dear Lord, there are signs of trouble and anxiety all around me. Give me confidence to trust in your incarnate presence in a fearful world. Help me know that I am a child of God. Amen.


I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy: Jeremy Riddle. Written by minister and evangelist George William Cooke in the 1920s

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Where Are You?


Written by Arie Leder, a contemporary teacher of the Old Testament and pastor.

The first question God asks in the Bible may seem a bit strange. We might think God would ask, “What have you done?” since Adam had disobeyed God’s instruction not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. But the question God asks is “Where are you?”—and, of course, God knows exactly where Adam and Eve are. God’s question makes clear to us that we cannot hide from him (Psalm 139:7-12), that we belong in his presence, that he made us to walk with him. But the guilt of our sin pushes us to try to hide. We try to cover up or run away, not wanting to face up to what we’ve done. The time of Lent gives us an excellent opportunity to focus on the “where” of God’s question: our walk with God. The Bible uses the word “way” for the first time in Genesis 3:24, saying that the “way” back to the garden was blocked by an angel with a sword. But God loved the world so much that he provided the way back to him, and to full life again, through Jesus Christ, who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Walking with the Lord means constantly answering the question “Where are you?” and emerging from our hiding places—that we may see ourselves in the light of God’s grace. It’s a good question to ask at the beginning of each day.


Written by Phil Togwell, a contemporary author and leader of the Anglican Diocese of Durham’s Prayer Project.

I become aware of my thoughts — especially the things that are distracting and disturbing me.  Lord, I offer you  my thinking, and I ask you to give me peace.

I notice my emotions — especially the feelings that are affecting my mood. Lord, I offer you all that I am feeling right now, and I ask you to give me joy.

I notice my body — especially the places where I can feel tension and stress.  Lord, I breathe slowly and deeply. I set myself at rest in your presence and I ask you to make me whole.  Amen.


Take My Hand Precious Lord/Just a Closer Walk With Thee: Selah.  Take My Hand Precious Lord is a gospel song written by Thomas Dorsey in the bereavement of the death of his wife in childbirth in 1932. Just a Closer Walk with Thee is a gospel song from an unknown writer, but likely dates back to Southern African American churches of the 19th century.

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Tune Into God


Written by Vickie Stone.

As a kid growing up in Columbus, Ohio many weekends my family would pack up and drive over to Indiana to visit my cousins.  Loaded in the station wagon with just the radio for entertainment, we drove northwest and eventually could tune in WOWO radio station.  At first it was just bits of the broadcast with mostly static, then it would come in loud and clear.  Now we were still far away from my cousin’s home, but WOWO had a 10,000 watt signal, so in those parts it carried quite a distance!  My folks told my sisters, brother and I that the station was around when they were growing up.

A relationship with God is much like a radio station.  We must tune in regularly and listen carefully to His channel.  Do we actually spend time every day to not only pray, but to listen?  We need to listen to the still small voice that talks to our hearts. Like many perhaps, I have struggled with this, but once I understood the reason Jesus took himself away from His disciples and went out into the wilderness to spend quiet, uninterrupted time with His Father, it became easier.  During the pandemic that began last year I began to carve out regular time each morning to meditate which I then combined with my prayer time. The benefits really helped me find peace during that turbulent year and continues to do so now.  And I’m grateful this meditation practice has become a habit; it helps me quiet my mind and listen.

As a lover of toe-tapping bluegrass music, there is a song called “Turn Your Radio On”. (Listen to the link below).     Can you hear God’s voice? Are you in tune with God’s spirit?  If you want a relationship with God and feel God’s power in your life, keep striving to have this relationship.  It’s one that will always be there.


Written by Phil Togwell, a contemporary author and leader of the Anglican Diocese of Durham’s Prayer Project.

Thank you, Father, for loving me with all Your heart, all Your soul, and all Your mind. Inspire me this week to love You more with all of mine. Thank You, Jesus, for Your faithful and sacrificial friendship. Help me this week to be a faithful and sacrificial friend like You. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for listening to my many thoughts and words and dreams. Still my soul this week to listen much more carefully to Yours. Amen.


Turn Your Radio On: Rose Maddox with the Vern Williams Band. Written by Rose Maddox and first performed in 1982.  

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