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Glimpses of Grace Devotion for September 3, 2017

On the next to last evening of a week long continuing education in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I received a gift that took my breath away and brought a tear to my eye. A member of my group of four called me over. She was sitting on a church pew with her husband who was recovering from extensive brain surgery. Standing in front of them, her husband reached into his pocket and handed me a horse shoe in the shape of a fish, an early symbol used by followers of Jesus to identify one another. 

Before his surgery he had been a blacksmith, skilled in all aspects of the art of “smithing.” It had been two years since he worked although anvil and hammer, forge and fire. A local smith let him use his shop that afternoon where he made two fish from two horseshoes. And he gave one to me! Why, I wondered. We had shared a meal, some conversation and laughter–every day activities hardly worthy of such a gift. But therein lies the glimpse, the gift in spite of my unworthiness. 

The gift was nothing short of an act of grace. Amazing grace that comes to us not because we are worthy of the gift, but because the giver simply wishes to give it! For God so love the world that He gave…(John 3:16a), not because of who we are or what we have done but because God simply wishes to give, unconditionally. And when we receive the gift, truly receive it, we do so in total humility. 

Lord God, give me a heart that is truly humbled by Your grace, Your love that knows no bounds. Amen. 


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Glimpses of Grace Devotion for August 30, 2017

When I was a child I was afraid of the dark. I was convinced that the night contained all kinds of scary life-threatening things. My mind would be on red alert, and I would eventually fall asleep from panic exhaustion. Then, one night, my parents put a night light in my bedroom and in the hallway outside my room. The threat of the darkness was broken.

Robert Voyle once wrote, “When children are afraid of the dark, we don’t turn off the dark. We don’t need to spend time analyzing the darkness or where it came from, or eloquently describing its subtle shades and nuances, or romanticizing the darkness, or fighting the monsters that roam in the darkness. We just need to turn on the light! And in the words of Martin Buber, if we teach children to see and carry the light that is within her or him, she or he need never be afraid of the darkness.”

As I write this a former colleague sits beside the bed of his critically injured son, a wife sits beside the bed of her critically ill husband, a son plans the funeral of his father and a nation and prays for the people in southeast Texas.

Jesus said that those who take Him seriously are “the light of the world.” We are called to shine the light of Peace, Hope, Joy and God’s Love into all of dark places of God’s world.

Lord, show me how to let my light shine brightly so that others will not be afraid. Remove my fear and fill my life with the Light of Your Love. 

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Blindness, Christian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace for August 29, 2017:Walking in the Dark

I’ve walked in the dark a lot in my life. Maybe you have, too. I don’t mean spiritual or psychological darkness but the physical darkness of the night in homes, buildings, and wooded areas. Over the years I’ve learned a few important things.

First, be alert and watch for shadows. They often indicate drop offs or dips of one sort or another.

Second, and most importantly, slide your feet along the surface without putting your weight on the front foot so that you can keep your balance and control.  It’s a lot like ballroom dancing.

My wife and I ballroom dance. Over the years I learned that the best ballroom dancers seldom “pick up” their feet. Rather they slide them forward. This is particularly true in my case, as my wife often wears open toed shoes. Sliding my foot cuts down on toe injuries–her’s, not mine!

Third, follow the lead. In any ballroom dance, and in any walk, someone has to lead.

Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear no evil… (Ps. 23: 4) There are many dark places in life. When you walk through one, which you will, remember to watch the shadows. Slide your feet forward. Keep your balance. And follow the lead of the One “Who brought you.”

Lord, make me sensitive to Your lead in life’s “dance”. Amen.

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Glimpses of Great ace Daily Devotion for August 26, 2017

While staying at a retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I saw a sign posted in the lobby: “There is increased bear activity in the area. Use extra vigilance when hiking, running or jogging. Dogs must be kept on a leash.”

Before sunrise I took my morning walk, not realizing that I was walking at the edge of the increased bear activity! While I was in no real danger, I’ll be more on future walks, needless to say.

I got to thinking, though, of something the prophet Hosea wrote centuries ago; God is as protective as a mother bear is of her cubs (13:8).  God loves each of us as if we were an only child. All of us are precious. All of us. When we hurt one another, God feels a mother’s pain. And God will respond to redress the wrong. The greater the wrong, the greater the response we will be. 

It is up to we who take Jesus seriously to not only speak out for the voiceless but to act for the defenseless. Our action, though, must never be in the spirit of anger but with a resolute sense of justice. When this happens, we become glimpses of living grace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.  Amen. (Attributed to St. Francis)

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Glimps s of Grace Daily Devotion for August 25, 2017

“Pop, do you want to play 500 with me?” one of my grandsons asked.

“Sure”. It was just the two of us, but when I was his age, I’d play “500” with anywhere between two and a dozen kids. Generally, 500 is a game associated with baseball. One person is the “hitter” and everyone else are “fielders”.  Points are accumulated by catching the hit ball; 100 for a fly ball, 50 for a one hop, 25 for a 2 hopper, 10 for a grounder, and none for a dead ball. Conversely, if you “call” a catch and miss, the equivalent points are deducted.

That’s the way WE played, but that’s not the way it’s played in my grandson’s schoolyard! Point structure varies with each hit (batter’s descretion) and there is something called “Freeze”! The batter tells one of the fielders to “freeze” and not move, thus eliminating that player from that hit ball!

Early on I realized that I’m old and that there is a new twist to 500. So, I decided to enjoy the moment, to embrace the “chaos” and just enjoy. (That’s one of the perks of growing older, though too few of us take advantage of it!)  After all, isn’t that the purpose of “play”?

And now that I think about it, isn’t life much more fun if we just embrace the chaos and look for what God is doing? Therein lies a glimpse of grace. 

Lord, the world is changing and it scares me at times, confuses me at other times. Remind me that You’re large and in charge. My life is in Your hands. Amen. 

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 24, 2017

One of  scribes came near and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” (v.28 in Mark 12:28-34)

What’s the most important thing that you can do? What will give you the greatest ROI? 

Ans. Love God with your whole being and love God’s children–all of them, even the ones who frustrate you, aggravate you, and threaten you.  Love ‘me. 

How do you do that that? Ask yourself “What’s the loving thing to do? 

After a very very difficult morning, a staff member at the church I serve decided to buy the whole office and preschool staff pizza. “They needed a mood picked-upper!” She was a genius. She put herself in their shoes and did something that was simultaneously simple and totally unexpected. 

You may not be able to buy pizza for ci-workers but you can say a kind word, let someone into the line of traffic, be a little slower at being “judgey”, or offer a sincere real prayer asking God to bless the ones that you would rather not be blessed. 

Lord, I don’t know how to pray. Teach me. Open my heart to live You and demonstrate that love by loving all of Your children. Amen

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 19, 2017

A Story of a Ten Dollar Bill & a Quarter

One morning as I took the clear inexpensive cover off of a pair of trousers fresh from the dry cleaners there was a sealed envelop stapled around the hanger. In bold letters were the words, OPEN IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT THROW AWAY

When I opened the envelop I found a folded ten dollar bill! Evidently I had left it in a pocket by accident. I was impressed by the values of the cleaners and the honesty of whoever checked my trousers before cleaning.

That evening my wife told me that when she took my grandson with her to get her car washed, they saw something that they had never seen before. An employee was riding in the car as it was pulled through the wash. He appeared to be doing something in the car, largely unnoticed, except by my grandson and wife!

When my grandson and wife got in the car she saw that a quarter that she keeps in a tray was missing. She asked the assistant and then manager of the car wash about it. They asked the employee who rode through the car wash and no quarter was found. She was even made to feel a liar.

As she told me what happened I couldn’t help but to remember Jesus’ words;  One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. (v. Luke 16:10)

That $10 bill and that quarter, said it all. 

Lord, make be faithful of a little do I will be seen in Your eyes as worthy as being faithful over a lot. Amen

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