Monday 22 October 2018
 
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” – Exodus 17:8-9
 

 

When Joshua is fighting the Amalekites who are attacking Israel, he and his soldiers will have all the courage, strength and tenacity they need to win the battle because Moses is on the hill holding them up to God in prayer. We all battle our own “Amalekites” – those forces, circumstances and situations that make us fearful and anxious. Whatever it is that attacks our peace and wellbeing, we must always remember that we never enter these battles alone. Each of us has a Moses in our lives holding us up to God who gives us the courage, strength and tenacity we need to be victorious over whatever seeks to undo us. The battle may be fierce, but someone is always holding us up to God.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 20 October 2018
 
23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. – Joel 2:23
 

 

As our autumn days grow cooler and shorter and 5:30 in the morning looks like the middle of the night, I make two of my three weekly runs in the afternoon during my lunch break. Running during daylight hours gives me the chance to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall. Brilliant yellows, warm reds and deep purples assure me that God loves us so much that He gives us colorful leaves to enjoy. Sometimes I stop, pick up a leaf and carefully put it in my pocket. Our God who sends rain and color each autumn, fills our lives with His beauty. How is God filling your life with beauty? Please take time to enjoy the colors God is giving us on this October Saturday, and through the autumn colors see God saying, “I love you.”
 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric 
 
Friday 19 October 2018
 
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” – Acts 8:26
 

 

While in my office on Tuesday evening I noticed a man removing bottles from our trash and recycling barrels. “Give him the money in your desk,” I kept thinking. Have you ever “out of the blue” felt the need to call someone or help someone, only to discover that what you did was just what they needed? These thoughts that pop into our minds are really God speaking to us. When God speaks to us (through angels or the Holy Spirit) He does not need words because God speaks directly to our minds. God speaks to us so that we can offer Jesus’ love to others. Back to Tuesday evening: With cash in hand, I went outside, gave it to the man while looking in his eyes and saying, “Thank you for your work!” I wonder what God will say to us today!
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Thursday 18 October 2018
 
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. – Psalm 139:4
 

 

Who knows everything there is to know about us? Which people know our past, our secrets, our sins, our weaknesses? Who knows the dreams, and hopes we have? With whom are we 100% transparent? The list of those who know us this well is very short! Why? Mistrust and fear. We are afraid that if someone knew everything about us they would abandon or betray us. But the Lord knows everything about us, accepts us as we are, and loves us where we are. You can trust God. Please spend time telling God about yourself. God is interested and will never betray us. The more we tell God about ourselves, the greater will be our enjoyment God’s extraordinary, unconditional acceptance of us and love for us.  
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 17 October 2018
 
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:13-14
 

 

“LeSabre Custom by Buick”, declares the badge adorning the dashboard of the 2000 car my daughter now drives. “Human Being by God”, declares the badge inscribed in each of us. Every person walking in the world is designed and built by God. People are wonderfully complex, and beautifully intricate creations. Wherever we live, whatever our culture, age, race, gender, orientation or economic status, we all built by God to enjoy God’s love and love God and people. One of the best ways I know to enjoy God’s love is to see the beauty God designs into every person. When we look upon others and appreciate that they are built by God we discover that enjoying God’s love is all about loving each other.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 16 October 2018
 
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24
 

 

Our thoughts make up our large, complex and wonderful inner world. What do we think about? Children? Finances? Health? Sometimes our thoughts are anxious. There are times when our minds think upon things that make us angry, resentful, jealous. While we are filled with thoughts, we don’t take much time to examine our thoughts – to ask ourselves, “Why am I thinking what I’m thinking?” When we look at why we think what we think, we become better acquainted with our motives, our moods and our priorities. Today, please take time to pray, “God, why am I thinking what I am thinking? Why do I believe what I believe?” When we invite God to examine our minds, we come to know ourselves better.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Monday 15 October 2018
 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:16
 

 

Before our birthday, God knew the number of days we would walk in His world. Our God, Jesus Christ walks with us through each day of our existence. There is not a single second when we are apart of Jesus. Because Jesus is always with us, He is always speaking to us. To hear Jesus, we need to take time to ask, “Lord what are you saying to me through today’s events?” In everything we experience Jesus is with us to give us insight, bring us wisdom, offer us a new perspective, exercise our faith, give us opportunities to forgive, and bring us blessings of unconditional love. Please take time to reflect on how Jesus is speaking to you through everything that happens today.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 13 October 2018
 
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. – Psalm 62:1
 

 

In the midst of your Saturday chores and responsibilities please be sure to take some time to rest. Hear God speaking your name and saying, “Rest in me.” When we allow our soul to rest in God our mind and our body are restored by God.  When our soul rests in God, the Lord brings us deep refreshment at core of our being.  This refreshing restoration spreads outward giving our minds renewed ability and our bodies renewed strength. Resting in Jesus our God saves us from the stress of weariness and exhaustion. So please take fifteen minutes or a half hour to rest in God by putting your feet up, relaxing in silence and maybe even taking a Saturday nap.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 12 October 2018
 
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:3
 

 

The Lord has done great things for us. Jesus has given us strength to get through times of trial. God has forgiven our sins.  Jesus has saved us from death and never-ending incarceration in the devil’s prison. The Holy Spirit fills us with wisdom. God supplies our needs when we are convinced that we have come to a dead end. Jesus gives us friends and church family members who love us, support us, encourage us, and walk with us through life. And with every sunrise, every cozy pillow, every delicious morsel of food and every good thought, Jesus gives us the assurance that He loves us with a love that lasts forever. The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!   
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Thursday 11 October 2018
 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” – Psalm 126:2
 

 

When we look over our lives we discover times when God blessed us beyond our greatest expectations. These blessings often come through other people. There are people in our lives who walked us through difficult days, celebrated our special occasions, laughed with us, and made us feel special. Remembering these blessings fills us with gratitude, laughter and joy.  Today, please ask God to lead you to someone for whom you can be a blessing – someone you can encourage, celebrate, support and encourage. It could be a spouse, child, friend, colleague, or even someone you’ve yet to meet.  Because of your life they will say, ”The Lord has done great things!” 

 
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 5 October 2018
 
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. – Psalm 126:1
 

 

The Israelites sang Psalm 126 while climbing the hills leading to the Jerusalem Temple for the Passover celebration. Some traveled to the temple amidst difficult times in life. Others climbed the hills filled with happiness. Whatever their circumstances, the Israelites remembered times when God gave them restoration. What in your life has God restored?  Think back over the times when Jesus restored your peace, your strength, your endurance, your perspective, your finances, your family, your faith. Jesus who restored our fortunes in the past is restoring our fortunes today. Because Jesus is restoring us we can be the ones who dream great dreams because Jesus is restoring our fortunes.
 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric
 

 

P.S. I will be on a continuing education break. The Daily Faith Builder resumes on Thursday 11 October.

 
Thursday 4 October 2018
 
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 1:4-5
 

 

Eating tasty food is so enjoyable! Jesus finds eating enjoyable too. After rising from the dead, Jesus spends forty days enjoying meals and fellowship with His friends. Over tasty food Jesus assures His followers that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and everything will be well. While good food gives us physical nourishment, it also feeds our souls. Delicious meals enjoyed with people we love bring joyous strength to our spirits, minds and bodies. Each time we partake of good food with good company we are tasting God’s love and experiencing a foretaste of Heaven, where we will sit down and enjoy a wonderfully delicious dinner with our Lord Jesus and with the Saints who live in God’s Kingdom.
 

 

Affectionately,

Pastor Ric
 
Wednesday 3 October 2018
 
38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. – Exodus 40:38
 

 

At least once a month my Granny Mercaldi would take me to Friendly’s for dinner. For dessert I would order a Jim Dandy and Granny would have a Happy Ending Sundae. I always loved the name of that dessert! A Sundae is definitely a happy ending to a tasty meal with someone special. The final verse of Exodus is a “Happy Ending Sundae.” Exodus closes with God assuring His people that He will be with them wherever they go. Please know that Jesus loves you so very much that He is with you wherever you go. Feel Him in your heart. See Jesus in the love of others and the beauty of creation. Taste Him in the delicious food you enjoy. Jesus’ presence is even more wonderful than Granny’s Happy Ending Sundae!
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 2 October 2018
 
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:3
 

 

The Lord does so many great things for us. God gives us clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, delicious food to eat, friends and family who love us, homes that shelter us, and memories that bring happiness to our hearts. This is a very short list of the great things God has done for us. The greatest thing God does for us is forgiving our wrongdoings and giving us the gift everlasting life that is satisfying and very good. What is one great thing God has done for you? Please think about that great thing throughout the day. God is working through this great gift to give strength to your spirit, joy to your heart and healing to your mind. The LORD has done great things for us!
 

 

Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 
 
Monday 1 October 2018
 
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves – Colossians 1:13
 

 

Wanting to find the perfect pumpkin on my kindergarten field trip, I walked far out into the patch. After finding the perfect pumpkin I turned around and discovered everyone was gone. They were back on the bus, and I was all alone. Sitting down in the field I cried. There are still times as a grown up when I need a rescue.  Fortunately, Jesus always rescues us. By giving us inner strength, inner joy, and the support of people who love us, Jesus always comes to our rescue. From what do you need Jesus to rescue you? He is on His way and everything will be fine.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Saturday 29 September 2018
 
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. – Psalm 62:1
 

 

In the midst of your Saturday chores and responsibilities please take some time to rest. Hear God speaking your name and saying, “Rest in me.” When we allow our souls to rest in God, the Lord brings restoration to our minds and bodies. When our soul rests in God we are allowing the Lord to refresh to the essence of who we are. And that restoration spreads outward giving our minds renewed clarity and our bodies renewed strength. Resting in Jesus saves us from the stress and distress of exhaustion.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 28 September 2018
 
19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven – Daniel 2:19
 

 

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a disturbing dream. Insisting that his wise men should be able to tell him what the dream is, the king refuses to disclose the dream. Furious that no one is wise enough to reveal his dream and its meaning, Nebuchadnezzar orders the execution of all his wise men. Rather than panicking, Daniel prays. During the night God reveals the king’s dream to Daniel, who reveals the dream and its meaning to the king. When the impossible is confronts you do not panic – pray! Keep connected to Jesus who gives us what we need to face the impossible. Jesus who lives within you did the impossible when He rose from the dead – and Jesus has been doing the impossible ever since.
 

 

Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 
 
Thursday 27 September 2018
 
16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand—I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” – Isaiah 51:16
 

 

Being examined by the Board of Ordained Ministry was a grueling process of written and oral exams before four groups of examiners. My mentor, Wallace Kirby was on the team examining my preaching. Knowing Wallace was there calmed my spirit and gave me confidence. Whenever we experience trying times God is with us, calming our spirits and giving us confidence. God shows His presence through shadows. Whenever we feel unnerved, the shadow cast by a tree, assures us that God is our strength; the shadow of a home assures us that God is our shelter, and the shadow of a person assures us that Jesus is our Friend who is with us always.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 26 September 2018
 
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10
 

 

Enjoying God’s love is spending time talking with God about everything that is on our minds, listening to God through the Bible, music, conversations and creation, and resting in God’s loving care. Enjoying God’s love is wonderful! When we enjoy God’s love we become good at loving each other. The best picture I know of this love is painted by people who look for and celebrate the good qualities in other people. People who enjoy God’s love naturally enjoy building other people up. When I want to know how close I am to Jesus I ask myself, “How am I doing at building other people up by celebrating their good qualities?” Who in your life should you celebrate today?
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 25 September 2018
 
12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass – Isaiah 51:12
 
When we feel small and weak, life’s challenges, trials, sorrows, disappointments, struggles and temptations loom large. Soon we feel overwhelmed, distressed, and like we’re hanging on the edge of a thousand-foot cliff and our fingers are slipping. The difficulties may be big, but our God who loves us is bigger! Jesus in His great strength beats up death when He rises to new life on the first Easter. This same Jesus is with us, giving us hope, strength and comfort that brings us through our struggles. There is no need to fear anyone or anything because our great big Savior Jesus is with us, and He is making everything well!
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Monday 24 September 2018
 
Awake, awake, arm of the Lord, clothe yourself with strength! Awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. – Isaiah 51:9a
 

 

“No matter how much weight lifting we do, we Hanses will always be small,” my kindhearted, big-muscled brother Stephen once told me. We all have days when we feel unusually small and weak. Those limp, “wet noodle” days. Whether it’s sleep deprivation, stress, sadness, a huge life change, or disease, life sends us situations that weaken our spirits and bodies. When those times come, please know that God is our strength. God clothes His arm with strength that flows into our minds, bodies and spirits, giving us all we need to carry the burdens of each day. We may be small, but our great God always clothes us with His strength. “Awake, arm of the Lord and clothe me with your strength!”
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Saturday 22 September 2018
 
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, – Colossians 1:10
 

 

Living a life that pleases the Lord does not mean earning God’s love. Think of the people who love us just the way we are for who we are. These are the people we enjoy being with. They are the ones who renew our strength and fill us with self-confidence. And we never have to earn their love. We do things to please them not to earn their love but because they already love us. We do things to please God because God loves us. We want to please God simply to show the God how much we love Him. Living a life that pleases God in every day is something we do so we can more fully enjoy God’s love.  What will you do today to show God how much you love Him?

 
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Friday 21 September 2018
 
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. – 1 John 4:7
 

 

Love comes from God. Every day God is giving us love. God’s love comes to us through the Bible and good songs of Faith. God’s love comes through good friends, good food and good memories. God’s love comes to us through blue skies, starry nights, rainy days and autumn colors. God’s love comes in countless ways. God’s love comes to us through Jesus. We can love one another because God gives us love enough to share. And God loves us with a love that is wonderfully extravagant. Please spend today enjoying the many ways God says, “I love you,” to you. 

 
 
Sincerely,
 

Pastor Ric  

 
Thursday 20 September 2018
 
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. – Romans 12:6-8
 

 

What do you love doing? What are you good at? When we use the skills and abilities God has given us we are happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. When we share our skills with our Church Families, the people we live with, our neighbors, colleagues and others we become shining beacons of God’s love. So, what do you love doing? How are you sharing your skill with others? God gives each of us skills to share with the world. Whether it’s putting up walls for people whose homes have been flooded, offering hospitality to someone, or putting together a book group, we all have gifts to share. And when we share them we are shining beacons of God’s love for the world.

 
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Wednesday 19 September 2018
 
“Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults.For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.” – Isaiah 51:7-8
 

 

As children and teenagers, we worried about what others thought of us. When we grew up things changed. Or did they? We still want people to like us. Fear of rejection can lead us to do and say things that compromise our integrity. The Christian Faith is all about freedom. When we discover how much God loves us, we are free to do what we know is right, good and beautiful, regardless of what others think because we know that Jesus loves us. When we live out Christ’s love there will be some who think we’re weird. But many more will be touched by our kindness, honesty, grace, and patience.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Tuesday 18 September 2018
 
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – Romans 12:4
 

 

Our bodies, which God designed and created are wonderfully complex, intricate and integrated. While running last Saturday I was thinking about everything my knees, hips, heart, lungs and eyes, inner ears were doing together to make my run possible. The Apostle Paul’s comparison of the Church to a body is wonderful. Every Church Family is like a body. In Jesus we are a single Church, and we are made up of many members. Each member has gifts, skills, abilities, tasks temperaments, and perspectives, we use to make the Church. We each have a different function in the Church, but we are one in Jesus, and we belong to each other, working to care for each other so that together we can care for the world.
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
Monday 17 September 2018
 
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. – Romans 12:3
 

 

Faith in God gives us faithful self-awareness. Jesus helps us to see ourselves as we really are by helping us to understand our temperaments, enabling us to us have confidence in our skills and abilities, giving us eyes to see our shortcomings and minds that understand we are created by God to enjoy God’s love, and offer God’s love to others. The more we know ourselves, the more we appreciate God’s love for us and the kinder we are to others because we are not thinking of ourselves as better than others. Jesus gives us healthy self-understanding so that we can better hear, understand, appreciate and celebrate others, and more faithfully walk with each other in ways that are gracious and kind.  
 

 

Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
Saturday 15 September 2018
 

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. – Isaiah 51:3

 
 

From time to time we experience a dark night of the soul – a period of dryness when God feels far away and when we don’t feel like praying. These dark nights happen when our prayers aren’t answered the way we want, when disappointments surround us, and troubles keep confronting upon us. In these desert-like times of our lives God IS with us and God is working to restore those dried up places so that we will know the joy and gladness of Jesus. I promise you that God’s refreshment will come when you least expect it – through someone you love, through a moment of quiet, through a spirit of peace filling you, through a favorite food that tastes exceptionally good. Jesus is restoring your joy and gladness.

 
 
Affectionately,
 

Pastor Ric

 
 
 
Friday 14 September 2018
 
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. – Romans 11:17-18
 
 
Israel and the Jewish people are the olive tree the Apostle Paul speaks of. We gentiles are the wild shoots grafted into the Tree of Life. We receive our nourishment and life from the people of Israel – Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Esther, David, Mary, Joseph and Jesus our Savior who grows up to be a great Rabbi. When I realize I am the “Johnny come lately” to God’s Family, I fill with gratitude that God loves us so deeply that He works through Jesus to invite all the world to be grafted into the Tree of Life which is the people called Israel. How wonderful it is to be a branch on the Tree.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
 
 
Thursday 13 September 2018
 
 
Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn;look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many. – Isaiah 51:1-2  
 
Working to do what is right and good can be exhausting. Moving against the flow of selfishness, hatred and gracelessness takes its toll. Whenever we are weary all we need do is look to Jesus, who restores our strength by showing us our wonderful heritage. We come from the family of Sarah and Abraham who trusted God to give them a child in old age and make them into a great nation. We come from people who against all odds worked to show Jesus’ love to the world and triumphed. When we feel weak all we need to do is look to Jesus who points us to the people whose Faith gave them rock-like strength. Look to Jesus and receive strength to be a rock of grace, love and peace.  
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
 
 
Wednesday 12 September 2018
 
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. – Matthew 5:14-16
 

Jesus is the Light of the world. When we place our trust in Jesus, we are filled with Christ’s light. The light of Jesus shines in us, illuminating all that is beautiful, good and right in us. Christ’s light shines through us enabling others to see the love of Jesus in our lives. When Jesus lives within us we become the Light of the world. Today receive the light of Jesus and allow Christ’s light to fill you so that through you, others will experience the guiding, inviting and unconditional love of Jesus. 

 
 
Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tuesday 11 September 2018
 
 
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. 16 The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads. – Psalm 7:15-16
 
 

On 11 September 2001 Al Qaida attacked the United States, digging a pit of destruction and death. They also hoped to dig a pit of despair. Osama bin Laden expected that we would be unable to lift ourselves out of this pit. He was wrong. He failed to take to heart King David’s words that whoever digs a pit falls into the hole they have made. Mr. bin Laden eventually fell into the pit of death he dug. And by God’s grace we emerged stronger, smarter and more vigilant. On this day of remembrance Jesus is calling us to fill in holes dug by selfishness and hatred through our acts of forgiveness, kindness and grace. When we fill in the pits, the healing love of Jesus brings restoration to us and to others.

 
 
Affectionately,
 
Pastor Ric
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      Saturday 8 September 2018 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” – Isaiah 44:8  
One of the most exciting pieces of the 2009 building construction and renovation at West Hartford United Methodist Church was the addition of an elevator to serve all three floors. While digging the elevator shaft we hit rock. A one-week project turned into a three-week trial which taught me that things do not go as expected. Climbing into the pit I took a piece of rock to remind me that God is my foundation, my strength and the One who sets the schedule. God our Rock is the foundation upon which we stand, and the One who brings us through unexpected challenges. When life’s trials slow you down and shake your confidence, please remember that God is our Rock, giving us stability, strength and peace.  
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric  
 
PS – Tomorrow we return to our 10:00am Worship schedule.
 
 
 
Friday 7 September 2018 Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel. – Isaiah 44:5
From kindergarten through twelfth grade I was always the second smallest kid in school. Being the second smallest meant I was usually last or nearly last to be picked for teams. There were many times when I felt like I didn’t belong. Have you ever felt excluded? We all experience times in life when we feel like we don’t belong. We feel like the outcast, the odd one out. Whenever we feel like we don’t belong, please remember that more than belonging to any one family, organization, church, political party, or culture we belong to God. You are the Lord’s. And there will never be a moment in your existence when you do not belong to God. When Jesus stretched out His arms on the cross so we could belong to Him. You are the Lord’s. You belong.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
 

Thursday 6 September 2018 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. – Isaiah 43:5   “Into The Woods”, by Stephen Sondheim is a musical that puts together some of our favorite fairy tales. In Act 2 the giant’s widow, hoping to kill Jack, ends up killing Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother. Red is left all alone and is terrified, when the witch sits beside her and sings the beautiful song “You Are Not Alone”. “Sometimes people leave you half way through the wood, Others may deceive you, you decide what’s good, You decide alone but no one is alone.” We are most afraid when we feel alone. But we are never alone. Jesus is always with us, guiding us and loving us. Whenever fear creeps into your spirit please pray, “Jesus you are with me, I am not afraid because I am not alone.”   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 5 September 2018 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. – Isaiah 43:4   “You are precious and honored in my sight…because I love you.” These are God’s words to us. You are precious to God. You are honored in God’s sight. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings the One Ring is the Precious. In real life, we are The Precious. We are so deeply loved by God that He gives someone in exchange for us. The Person God gives to secure our freedom is the Ultimate Person – God’s only Son Jesus. We are so precious that God gives Jesus in exchange for us. Whenever you feel small, unloved, unappreciated, unimportant, please hear God saying, “You are precious and honored in my sight, because I love you.” God not only moved heaven and earth for us, He gave His only Son for us. We are loved by God with an amazing love.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 4 September 2018 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. – Romans 9:8   “Each child is different,” my Mother-in-law often tells me. Different. Never better. The same is true when it comes to the Christian Faith. Each person is a child of God, and no one child is better than the other. God’s children who grew up in the Faith are no better than God’s children who come to Faith in Jesus later in life. No one is better because heritage and pedigree mean nothing to God. What means everything is wholeheartedly trusting Jesus and enjoy God’s love. We are all wonderfully different. At the same time, we are God’s children because Jesus has come to us and holds us in His love. My children are different. One has green hair, one has tattoos on both arms, and one is analytical. But none is better than the other because they are all my beloved children. Just as we are God’s wonderfully different and beloved children in Jesus.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Labor Day Monday 3 September 2018 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” – John 4:37-38   According to the U.S. Department of Labor website Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday 5 September in New York City thanks to the Central Labor Union. On 21 February 1887, Oregon was the first state to pass a law, making Labor Day a holiday. On 28 June 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. Labor Day celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers. Jesus calls us to use our skills and abilities to make this world a better and more beautiful place. We enjoy the blessings of laborers who have gone before us. On this Labor Day, please celebrate their accomplishments and commit to doing the work required to honor Jesus by working to make this world a better place for those who come behind us.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 1 September 2018 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39   Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. There is nothing we can do and nowhere we can go to get a way from God’s love. There is no one who can separate us from God’s presence in our lives and God’s love for us. Jesus is with us, loving us, caring for us – always and forever! When life is going well for us, Jesus is walking with us. When we are weary, heartbroken and struggling, Jesus is carrying us. When we forsake God, Jesus is calling us back. We belong to Jesus and nothing will ever change this beautiful truth. Praise be to Jesus!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   PS – Worship is at 9am tomorrow. – Ric   Friday 31 August 2018 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? – Romans 8:35   No matter our age, we experience the sting of disappointments. But trials never get the better of us when we know that Jesus is always with us – even when we don’t feel He’s near. When things do not go the way we want, when tough and terrible times come, we feel like God is far away. But our feelings are not always accurate indicators of our reality. No matter how far away God feels, no matter how disappointed we are when our prayers are not answered the way we want them answered, God is with us. The love of Jesus is stronger than the toughest trial. Whatever trials we face, God’s love is stronger, more tenacious and with us always, no matter how we feel.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 30 August 2018 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32   God loves us so deeply that He gives us everything we need. When we were trapped in the devil’s prison, separated from God’s love, and unable to find the way that leads to a life that is satisfying and lasts forever, Jesus comes to us. Jesus loves us so deeply that He satisfies our deepest needs by offering His life to free us and make a way for us to enjoy God’s forgiving love forever! God loves us so much that He also gives us everything else we need in life: Friends to walk with us, family to love us, food to enjoy, skills to share, beauty that refreshes the soul. Every day, either directly, or through others, God is graciously giving us everything we need so that we can show the love of Jesus by supplying the needs of others.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 29 August 2018 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31   When my youngest brother was a child, two boys who lived up the street were bullying him. It had to stop. One day while they were picking on him, I snuck up behind them, grabbed one by the arm, and yanked his arm behind his back so that he couldn’t move. Since I am small I had to use stealth rather than strength. “If you ever bother my brother again I’ll sneak up on you when you least expect it and break your arm. You understand?!” They never bothered my brother again. Whenever we are feeling bullied by the situations, circumstances and people, please remember that our God, Jesus Christ is with us because He is for us. Jesus is the biggest big brother on the block and He’s always looking out for our wellbeing.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 28 August 2018 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. – Romans 8:29-30   Predestination has nothing to do with God deciding who goes to heaven and who does not. Predestination is God sharing with everyone the great news that all who believe in the Jesus Christ shall be rescued from wrongdoing, isolation and death. Before time began God decided to pour the love of Jesus upon us so that through creation, through others, through the good gifts we enjoy, we would see, hear and feel God calling us to enjoy Jesus’ love and trust in Jesus with our whole hearts. From the beginning God predestined you to experience and enjoy Jesus and His love! Jesus has chosen you!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 27 August 2018 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28   A year ago, today one of my dearest friends took his life. Stuart suffered from the terrible disease called depression. When the dark days show up in our lives, the risen Jesus comes to us with open arms inviting us to receive the strength, peace, healing and hope He has for us. On Good Friday our God Jesus works through the dark day of His death to bring us the light of resurrection life on Easter. God works for the good in ALL things. Depression kept Stuart from experiencing the good in this life. But Jesus who defeated death, brought him healing by receiving Stuart into the kingdom of Light, Healing and Life. If you suffer from depression, please seek treatment. Always remember that somehow, in many ways, God is working all things for our good.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 25 August 2018 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. – Isaiah 43:2   Our lives are filled with challenges, trials and unexpected difficulties. Whatever we face in life, we never confront it alone. Jesus who knows us by name is always with us. When we pass through waters of heartache, Jesus is with us saying, “Remember your baptism and know that I have claimed you.” When fiery trials seek to burn away our hope and joy, Jesus is with us saying, “The trials will not hurt you, they will purify you and make you stronger because I am with you.” In every difficulty we face, Jesus – who confronted and overcame every trial – is with us. And Jesus always has the final say over our lives.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 24 August 2018 But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1   As a child I was afraid of going into the basement. In school I was frightened of failing. As a parent I feared something would happen to my children when they were away from home. What do you fear? Living in fear is exhausting and paralyzing. In His great love for us Jesus, who knows us by name, forgives our sins, saves us from death and gives us life that is satisfying and lasts forever. Whenever fear fills your spirit please hear Jesu speaking the wonderful words of Isaiah, “Do not fear, I have called you by name, you are mine.” Fear cannot claim us because Jesus owns us. Jesus, our Prince of Peace is our defense against fear. In Jesus, we have nothing to fear.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 23 August 2018 30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” – Numbers 13:30-31   Put a tiny dot from a pen on a sheet of paper and our attention immediately goes to the dot. Put a trial in our lives, and we often focus solely on what is wrong, rather than on the many things that are wonderfully good. Trials, challenges, and hardships grow unnecessarily large when we see only what’s wrong. The trial is the dot on the paper. God is the entire paper. God is so much larger than our largest trials. Jesus proves this when He shows us on Easter that He is larger than death. Caleb knows the people in the Promised Land are large and is convinced that God is larger. Our God’s a BIG God! When trials and sorrows swirl in life, remember that Jesus is larger than the storm, and Jesus who loves you is with you.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 22 August 2018 26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community…27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. – Numbers 13:26a, 27-28a   The twelve leaders sent to scope out the Promised Land, return to Moses, sharing the good news that their future home is everything God promised! The soil is rich; the food is plentiful; the homes are beautiful. But there is one literally huge problem. The people! Ten of the twelve leaders assume that making a home in God’s promised land will be easy. Joshua and Caleb know better. Making a home takes hard work, and faith in God. God has wonderful blessings for us to enjoy. But taking hold of these blessings requires trust in Jesus and work. Transforming a house, apartment or condo into a home takes work. Being successful in our jobs takes work. Being good parents and good friends takes work. Faith and work are inseparable. Faith in Jesus gives us strength to secure the blessings Jesus has for us to enjoy.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 21 August 2018 17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. – Numbers 13:17-18   Do you remember looking for your home? Do you remember the excitement you experienced when you found the apartment, condominium or house you decided would become your home? President Reagan once said about his California ranch “If it isn’t heaven, it’s at least in the same zip code” (Patti Davis, Hartford Courant p A9 8/20/18). The land God promises to the Israelites is designed to give them a preview of heaven. It wasn’t heaven but was in the same zip code! Jesus wants the place we call home to be a haven of blessing and peace. Today invite Jesus to fill your home with His presence, and you will discover that your home is the Promised Land God gives to you. While our homes may not be heaven, Jesus assures us that they are in the same zip code!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 20 August 2018 1The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.” – Numbers 13:1-2   After a long and difficult trip, the Israelites are finally close to the Promised Land that God wants to give them. Excitement mounts in the camp as everyone imagines life in a land filled with good food and beautiful homes. Moses sends a leader from each of Israel’s twelve tribes into Canaan to learn about their future home. Excited expectation fills the hearts of the twelve as they travel to the Land God will give them. Happy Monday! We’re at the beginning of a new week – a week filled with promise. Great things lie ahead this week. Some of these things will be greatly good, some greatly challenging and some greatly painful. Through everything Jesus is with us, and Jesus is our Strength through whom we can do all things.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 18 August 2018 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. – Psalm 84:2   It was brutally hot and humid throughout the week of our youth mission trip to Orland, Maine. But God sent me restoration through Jim Hazlett’s supply of ice-cold seltzer. The stresses of life – pressures at work, responsibilities or difficulties in our families, and struggles with our health or the health of people we love can all cause our spirits to grow weary and disillusioned. Trying times lead us to yearn for a place where we can experience the refreshing love of Jesus our living God. Because our bodies are the temples in which God lives, that refreshment is as close as our hearts. When you are weary and crying out for the refreshment of our Living God, please know that Jesus is within you and He is working to restore your spirit. Jesus’ is refreshing water for our souls.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 17 August 2018 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! – Psalm 84:1   When the Psalmist writes these words, he is referring to the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. When Jesus lives in the world, dies on the cross and rises to indestructible life, He changes the location of the Temple. The new temple is you. The Lord makes His dwelling place in you. Your body is the Lord’s temple. The Holy Spirit lives in you. You are God’s dwelling place. Whatever is taking place in your life, always remember that Jesus is speaking directly to your mind, assuring you again and again, “You are my lovely dwelling place.”  How lovely are you, God’s dwelling place!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 16 August 2018 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. – Malachi 4:2a   In 1740, Charles Wesley, the song writing brother of Methodist Church founder John Wesley writes the song lyrics, “Christ whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true, the only light, Sun of Righteousness arise, triumph o’er the shades of night; Dayspring from on high, be near; Daystar, in my heart appear.” When we choose to enjoy God’s love and love God with our whole hearts, the light and presence of Jesus rises in our lives and fills us with God’s healing, strengthening and joyous light. Today please know that Jesus – the Sun of Righteousness – is rising in your life to bless you in new, wonderful and unexpected ways.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 15 August 2018 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. – Isaiah 32:17   Do you sometimes feel as if your life is a swirling storm of busyness? Have you noticed that even when you try to take some time off your mind is still swirling with stresses and concerns? Are you so used to a life of bustling activity that you prefer to be on the move rather than to be still and quiet and alone with your thoughts? We are addicted to busyness. But busyness is often driven by insecurity which fuels within us a need to please and to produce. Please take ten minutes today for unplugged quietness. No electronics. Just you and a time for asking God to allow His righteousness to quiet your mind, spirit and body. It is in the quietness of God’s presence that our confidence grows.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 14 August 2018 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. – 2 Timothy 2:1-2   Praying for world, state and local leaders is essential to a life of faith. We have the privilege and responsibility to offer these leaders to God. We pray for people in authority so that they may receive, experience, and offer God’s peace. As people receive God’s peace they become instruments of God’s peace. World peace begins with prayer. Please take time to pray for the world’s leaders. As we pray for the world’s leaders to receive God’s peace, we will also be more open to receiving the peace of Jesus in our lives.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   P.S. If you are a registered Republican or Democrat (Independents cannot vote in primaries), please put your prayers into action today by voting in our CT primaries. Voting is essential to keeping our Democracy healthy. – Ric   Monday 13 August 2018 20 Look on Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken. 21 There the Lord will be our Mighty One. – Isaiah 33:20-21a   The source of Jerusalem’s peace is God’s faithful strength. The source of our peace is God’s faithful strength. God is stronger that the most unsettling stressors, the most problematic problems, the most insidious infirmities, and the most devastating disasters that befall us. Because God is stronger, God will never be found lacking. Because God is stronger, we will always be safe. God’s unshakeable strength is the source of our peace. Please take some time to reflect on God’s tenaciously strong love for you and God’s faithfulness to you. And as you reflect, Jesus will grow His peace within you.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 11 August 2018 17 The fruit of [the LORD’s] righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. – Isaiah 32:17-18   God’s righteousness is the source of our peace. God’s righteousness is a commitment to keeping promises, a tenacious love for us that will never let us go, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to offer us life that lasts forever. When we open or lives to God’s righteousness our spirits will not be subject to the fickle stresses and anxieties of life lived in this broken world. Just as the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant with them wherever they went, Jesus calls us to carry His righteous presence with us wherever we go so that we will always live in peaceful dwelling places because the Prince of Peace dwells within us.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 10 August 2018 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility – Ephesians 2:14   Jazz artist Horace Silver’s song “Peace” helps me to experience our Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ. Peace is something we receive from Jesus. When Jesus – the Prince of Peace – lives His life through us, He fills us with His peace. Peace is the assurance that in all circumstances God is with us working all things together for good. Such assurance fills us with security, humility, a spirit of forgiveness, and a commitment to loving and serving others. As Jesus fills us with peace, He demolishes the walls of fear, hostility, and death that are in us. In Jesus Christ we are truly free. Peace is freedom and freedom is peace. Please give your cares and stresses to Jesus, and receive God’s peace.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 9 August 2018 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9   The gifts of forgiveness, new beginnings, a good relationship with God, and life that lasts forever do not come to us because we have earned them. These gifts are ours to enjoy because God loves us. The only way to earn God’s good gifts is by doing no wrong for the entirety of our lives. The only One who accomplished this is Jesus. The way we receive and enjoy these gifts by faith – which is trust in Jesus Christ. When we place our trust in Jesus, He erases our wrongdoing, brings us new beginnings with new perspectives, and gives us satisfying life that begins in this world and carries us into the World that never ends.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 8 August 2018 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. – Ephesians 2:4-5   Coming alive in Christ is not a mental or spiritual state that we create. Coming alive in Christ is a gift we receive from God.  Apart from God’s merciful love we are unaware of Jesus’ offer to us of merciful, forgiving, life-renewing love. Because God’s love towards us is so extravagant, He offers us the opportunity to place our trust in Jesus so that we can come alive in Christ. When we come alive in Jesus, we become people who use our gifts and skills to show others the greatness of Jesus’ extraordinary love.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 7 August 2018 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. – Ephesians 1:4a   Before making earth God knew exactly when you would live in this world. Before creating the cosmos, Jesus loved you so deeply that He decided to invite you to place your trust in Him and receive forgiveness, peace and life. Whenever you feel unimportant or unnoticed please remember that before Genesis was a reality God’s love for you was very present and very real. You are so very special to Jesus. Today Jesus is choosing you to be the one upon whom He pours His love, His His peace and His joy. You are God’s priceless treasure.      Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 6 August 2018 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. – Psalm 9:10   Like patience, trust is something that is uncomfortable to exercise. Our need to trust in God is greatest during those times in our lives when our prayers are not being answered as we expect, and when things are not going according to plan. When our spirits are filled with stress, anxiety and disappointment it is difficult to trust in Jesus. During these tough times Jesus is with us, assuring us that we do know His name and we can trust in Him. Jesus will never forsake you. Please do the work of offering Jesus your trust. Jesus is with you and He is working to make things well with your mind, your body and your soul.  “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, how I’ve proved Him over and over. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust Him more!”   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 4 August 2018 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. – Romans 8:18   I have terrible teeth. I have spent much of my life in a dentist chair. Just when I think I’m done with teeth problems, something else goes wrong. But when I compare the amount of time I have spent with a dental drill in my mouth to the amount of time I have enjoyed eating, exercising, being with my family and friends, and pastoring, suddenly the time at the dentist is insignificant. Whenever we experience suffering we need to keep a proper perspective. The suffering is never larger than the joy, happiness, good times and perfect healing we have enjoyed and will enjoy in Jesus forever! The good is always far greater than the bad.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 3 August 2018 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” – Numbers 11:4-6   When God parts the Red Sea it’s not only the Israelites who escape Egypt, but thousands of others who believe life will be better outside of Egypt. Some of them are called “the rabble” because they care only about themselves and are quick to find fault with everything. In today’s world, I don’t have to look very far to find the rabble. I simply look within myself. The rabble are in me. They are in each of us. The rabble are those places within us that quickly forget God’s care, take for granted the good gifts we enjoy, whine when things go wrong, and complain about how much better things used to be. The spirit of negativity that lives in each of us is our inner rabble. We need to offer the rabble in each of us to Jesus, who gives us grateful hearts, resilient spirits and joyous perspectives.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 2 August 2018 The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. – Isaiah 51:3   “Sometimes I remember too much Richard,” my mother-in-law shared with me while we were talking one evening. Do you hold memories you wish you could forget? These memories can be harsh, desert-like places that leave us feeling weak and vulnerable. When we offer these memories to Jesus, He enters our painful memories and brings us healing. Just as a broken bone that heals properly becomes abnormally strong, these healed memories make us abnormally strong, joyous, and thankful. Whenever we offer our painful memories to Jesus, healing begins and one day those ruined desert places will become Eden-like gardens of joy, gladness and thanksgiving. I promise it!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 1 August 2018 10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. – Isaiah 50:10   I love light. I am grateful for the sun. Nightlights are a necessity in my home. Bright rooms feel warm, safe and inviting. Moonlight and starlight delight my soul. Though we live in a world filled with light, seemingly unresolvable difficulties, challenges that never get easier, and unceasing trials can make us feel like we are walking in the darkness. When we don’t know what to do or where to go…When we know where to go but are not sure how to get there…When we know what needs to be done but we don’t have what we need… In all these situations Jesus, the Light who shines in the darkness, invites us to rely on Him and to trust that He is with us and is supplying our every need. It is never completely dark.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 31 July 2018 17 The fruit of [the LORD’s] righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. – Isaiah 32:17-18   God’s righteousness is the source of our peace. God’s righteousness is a commitment to keeping promises, a tenacious love for us that will never let us go, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to offer us life that lasts forever. When we open or lives to God’s righteousness our spirits will not be subject to the fickle stresses and anxieties of life lived in this broken world. Just as the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant with them wherever they went, Jesus calls us to carry His righteous presence with us wherever we go so that we will always live in peaceful dwelling places because the Prince of Peace dwells within us.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 30 July 2018 40 They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet. – 1 Chronicles 4:40a   The people of the Tribe of Simeon (one of the twelve tribes of Ancient Israel) lived in the southernmost region of Israel – to the west of the Dead Sea. God blessed them with land that was spacious, peaceful and quiet. In the midst of the busyness of our lives God calls us to seek out a place that is spacious, peaceful and quiet. In the summertime this place is my back yard with its flowers, trees and screened porch. What is this place for you? A place does not have to be large to be spacious. Take some time this week to create a place for yourself that is spacious, peaceful and quiet. Jesus will work through this place to be your source of renewal.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric    Saturday 28 July 2018 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. – Isaiah 49:16   God loves us so much that He engraves our names on the palms of His hands. The best picture I know of this extraordinary love comes to us through God the Son who allows nails to be driven through His hands out of love for us. Jesus stretches out his hands on the deadly wood of a cross to embrace the world with unconditional love, forgiveness and life that lasts forever. Our names were on Jesus’ hands when He went to the cross. He loves us that much. Whenever you feel unworthy and unloved and insignificant, look to the cross and see Jesus offering you unconditional love, forgiveness and everlasting life. Look to the cross and receive the gift of life in Jesus.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 27 July 2018 14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” – Isaiah 49:14-15   When difficulties and disappointments plague our lives it can feel like God has forgotten us, and we are alone in the universe. It is a terrible feeling. During these bad days, weeks, months and sometimes years, please remember that feelings are never an accurate read on our reality. God never forgets us. Just as a mother nursing her baby is filled with compassion and is holding the child, God is filled with compassion for us His children, is holding us and giving us all the strength we need. God never forgets us. Whenever we feel forsaken, please remember that we are never alone – God never forgets us. God holds us close to His breast to give us comfort and strength just as a mother nursing her beloved baby.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 26 July 2018 13 Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. – Isaiah 49:13   God’s comfort refreshing like iced tea on a hot summer’s day. God’s comfort is soothing, like a warm shower. God’s comfort is refreshing, like a good night’s sleep. God’s comfort is delicious, like our favorite food. God’s comfort is beautiful, like a sunrise. God’s comfort brings hope, like wonderful news. God’s comfort is safe like a home that is a haven of blessing and peace. In large and small ways God comforts us each and every day of our lives. God’s comfort is wonderful!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 25 July 2018 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this. – Numbers 12:1-2   Moses’ siblings Miriam and Aaron are frustrated with their brother. He marries the wrong woman. His leadership of Israel is disappointing. Things are not going the way Miriam and Aaron expect after their escape from Egypt. Have you ever noticed that when two or more are gathered in anyone’s name there will be conflict? People will always disappoint each other, disagree with one another and possess differing priorities from each other. Conflict is not unhealthy. What matters is how we engage in conflict. Faithful conflict engagement is all about listening carefully, seeking to understand each other, being open to learning, and knowing that disagreeing does not mean disliking. This thoughtful way of engaging conflict shows the world that we are committed to loving each other with the great love of Jesus.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 24 July 2018 17 This is what the Lord says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. – Isaiah 48:17   Our dentists and hygienists teach us the importance of brushing and flossing. Educators give us a love for learning that brings joy to life. Medical professionals teach us the importance exercise and a healthy diet. Family members and our Church family show us how to love God and neighbor. God works through so many good people in our lives to teach us what is best for us and to lead us to live life in the ways that are wonderfully satisfying. Sometimes the lessons are unpleasant. Always the directions lead to a life that is filled with healing, strength, joy and beauty. God has wonderful lessons in store for us today – some will be fun, some will be difficult. All will be worthwhile.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric    Monday 23 July 2018   12 “Listen to me, Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. 13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. – Isaiah 48:12-13   Living life in this world can be scary. Today it’s lockdown drills and mass shootings. Years ago, it was bomb drills and the threat of nuclear annihilation. But there is Someone larger than these frightening realities – God. God is the first and the last. God created the world, and only God has the final say over our existence. Because of Jesus’ great love for us, we can navigate treacherous times knowing that God who loves us, is so powerful that all creation rises at His command. God’s commitment to life is so certain that those who seek to bring harm will never triumph. God who was first, is the last. God not only has the final say. God is the final say! And God’s final word is abundant, satisfying resurrection life in Jesus that lasts forever.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 21 July 2018 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.  I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. – Psalm 16:4   We do not bow down and worship statues, but we do spend time running after gods that are not God. The things and the people that we set up as gods are not bad. But we give these things and these people places of importance that they are not meant to occupy. We also lay expectations on them that they can never fulfill. What have you turned into your “other gods”? The best way to answer this question is by asking yourself, “What/who can I not live without? What/who if I did not have, would make life not worth living?” These are the other gods. When we run after them we suffer. Please make a careful examination of what you cannot live without, and then offer it to the one God who is the only One we cannot live without.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 20 July 2018 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” – Psalm 16:2   Jesus Christ who is our refuge is also the source of every good thing that we enjoy. Apart from God’s love, God’s grace, and God’s creativity we have no air, no water, no food, no shelter, no skills, no intelligence and no wisdom. God gives us every good gift to show us His great love. Jesus delights in pouring good gifts upon us. The greatest Gift that Jesus gives us is life that lasts forever. Everlasting life is not a gift that we unwrap and enjoy on the day we die. Everlasting life begins right now. When we place our trust in Jesus, we receive the gift of a life that is wealthy with forgiveness, freedom, and wonderful intimacy with God and others. What great gifts God gives us!  We truly are the fortunate ones!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 19 July 2018 Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. – Psalm 16:1   Taking refuge is something we throughout our lives. Do you remember making blanket forts as a child? And we felt cozy and safe in them. Grade point average safety is found in taking classes in which we know we can get an easy “A”. Healthy marriages and friendships give us social and emotional refuge. We move into homes we believe to be safe so that our apartments and houses can be places of refuge from the craziness of the world. Our church home is a refuge that brings us into a relationship with God who is our ultimate refuge. God is our refuge with a capital “R”. Jesus is our God who keeps us safe when all other refuges fail. And Jesus our refuge is always faithful. Today and forever Jesus is protecting you with His powerful, healing and life-giving strength. Jesus is our refuge.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 18 July 2018  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark 12:30   Loving God is something most consider to be purely spiritual. But loving God is a physical endeavor. No more than we can separate our spirits from our bodies, can we separate the spiritual and physical aspects of our faith. They are interconnected. Loving God therefore is something very physical. We love God with our bodies. We demonstrate our love for God through how we care for our bodies – what we eat, the amount of rest we get, and exercise. We show God our love through the way we use our bodies – for sex, for stillness, for service to others, for presence with people. Ultimately, loving God with our bodies means offering what we do with our bodies to God. A life of Faith is very physical.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 17 July 2018 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark 12:30   Loving God with all that we are means loving God with our minds. The Judeo/Christian Faith is one that engages the mind. God who created us, created our minds, and calls us to glorify Him by being Christians who are thoughtful. We love God with our minds when we make the questions “What” and “Why” central of our lives. Asking “What” causes us to slow down and notice things. Asking “What” grows our knowledge. Asking “Why” grows our understanding, thereby increasing our wisdom. “What” leads to knowledge. “Why” leads to wisdom. How are you doing at loving God with your mind?   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 16 July 2018 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark 12:30   God who is perfect unity calls us to love him with our heart (emotions) our soul (temperament), our mind (intellect) and our strength (bodies). Our soul is the core of who we are. The essence of who we are is found in our temperament. We all have different temperaments. Some are extroverted. Other people are direct. Some people are paced. Others are structured. Whatever your temperament, God calls you to love Him fully with your unique temperament. When we love God with our temperaments we are loving God with the essence of who we are, and more fully enjoying His love for us.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 14 July 2018 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark 12:30   God is perfect unity. God calls us to love Him with our emotions (heart), our temperaments (soul), our intellects (mind) and our bodies (strength). How are you doing at loving God with your emotions? Loving God with our emotions means offering Jesus those emotions within us that are good and pure – love, happiness, a feeling of wellbeing. Jesus also calls us to love Him with our emotions by offering God those emotions within us that need to be remade – insecurity, jealousy, worry and anger. Finally, loving Jesus with our emotions means offering God those emotions that need to be removed – lust, greed, selfishness. Today, please grow your love for God by offering Jesus all your emotions. I promise you that Jesus will not be surprised, and Jesus will do the work of strengthening, remaking and removing.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 13 July 2018 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;   his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalm 100:5   The Lord shows us His goodness in so many wonderful ways: The beauty of creation. The taste of good food. The love of family members. The faithfulness of dear friends. The deep and lasting happiness that Jesus places within our hearts. God’s goodness is permanent. Through every season of lives, in times of trial and good times as well, God’s goodness is with us and for us. When we are faithful, God is faithful. When we are faithless, God is faithful. God’s commitment to living out His promises to us continues forever. Because God is good and faithful forever we can be filled with the deep inner happiness of Jesus forever.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 12 July 2018 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. – Psalm 100:4   While running on Wednesday morning I enjoyed a symphony of birdsong. In my mind I began singing “This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise…” I was running on the road, but in my spirit, I was entering God’s gates with thanksgiving. I started praising God for the songs of His birds. We enter God’s gates whenever the Holy Spirit leads our spirit to sing songs of praise to God, and whenever the Holy Spirit swells our spirits with thanksgiving. When you least expect it, God bring your spirit through His gates and into His courts where your heart will swell with thanksgiving and praise. It will be wonderful!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

 

Wednesday 11 July2018 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. – Psalm 100:3   Three realities that assure me that God exists. First, the Church exists – despite all of its mismanagement the church is not only still alive, but it is thriving. Jesus promised us that not even the powers of Hell would be able to destroy the church. And He is keeping His promise! Second, I know God exists because after 30 years, my wife Lisa still loves me and still likes me! Third, I know that God is real because while on the cross Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.” God the Son returns deadly hatred with life-giving love. Jesus, the ultimate Forgiver gives all people (since all people are created in His image) the ability to forgive. God made us, we are His people, and the better we know Jesus, the more we will be assured of the reality that our God Jesus is taking perfect care of us always.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 10 July 2018     Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. – Psalm 100:2   Think of the people with whom you love spending time. These are the people you look forward to being with. When you are with them, time goes by quickly. And these are the people who renew your energy and strengthen your joy. Is the Lord one of the people you enjoy spending time with? The way we worship is a window into our relationship with Jesus. When Jesus is someone we love being with, then worship is not something to endure – rather worship is something to enjoy.  Would we want people to look forward to getting away from a visit with us? Of course not. When we worship we need to enjoy being in the moment with God. This is what it means to worship the Lord with gladness.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 9 July 2018 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. – Psalm 100:1   Joy is a deep, God-given happiness in our hearts that is present when life is good and with us when life is not good. Joy is not determined by circumstances. This God-given inner happiness shapes our spirit, informs our perspective, fuels our hope, and crafts our attitudes. We nurture, nourish and grow the deep happiness God gives us by receiving God’s love, enjoying God’s presence, and sharing God’s kindness. Please take time today to nurture the joy God gives you by thinking about the many ways Jesus shows you His love for you. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will amaze you what the Lord has done!” an old Methodist song declares. Counting our many blessings is a wonderful way to nurture the gift of God’s joy which lives in our hearts.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 7 July 2018 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. – Habakkuk 3:17-18   There are times in our lives when things do not go well for us. We have a bad day (or week, or month) at work; our marriage or another relationship with a friend or family member deteriorates; our health fails us or something else happens. When we go through trials in our lives we must remember that our faith is designed to give us a hope, a strength, a peace and a joy that carries us through tough times and enables us to truly enjoy times that are good. Are you going through a difficult time? Choose Faith. Choose to rejoice in the Lord. When we are in Jesus, He gives us the grace we need to rejoice in His love and care which will never fail us.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 6 July 2018 2 LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. – Habakkuk 3:2a   Habakkuk was a prophet who lived during the reign of Judah’s good and godly King Josiah (640-609 B.C.). In the third chapter of his book Habakkuk proclaims, “I stand in awe of Your deeds.” What deeds of the Lord have you experienced in your life that fill you with awe? Freedom from a past trial or ordeal? A miraculous healing of either your body or your spirit? The strength to do something you never thought you’d accomplish? Complete freedom from a past sin or traumatic experience? A great relationship with a spouse, a child, a friend? A beautiful sunset? Jesus bringing you through a difficult time? The possibilities are unlimited! Please think about deeds of the Lord which have touched your life and fill you with awe.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 5 July 2018 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14   How are you holding up in this heat wave? I’ve replaced my nighttime coffee with an ice-filled glass of seltzer. Ice-cold lemonade (or seltzer) on a hot summer day is a gift from God. A glass of ice water in the heat of the afternoon sun (in the midst of mowing the lawn) refreshes the soul as well as the spirit. Jesus is refreshing water for our souls. Jesus enters our lives and quenches our thirst for unconditional love, new beginnings, and belonging. Much in life dries up our joy and parches our spirits. Jesus is the living water who restores and refreshes us. Praise be to God for the gift of Jesus, our Living Water.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 4 July 2018 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord – Psalm 33:12   On Thursday 4 July 1776 at about 11:00 in the morning, debate over the Declaration of Independence was closed and the vote taken. As on 2 July, twelve colonies voted in the affirmative while New York abstained. It all went very smoothly. Congress then ordered the document to be authenticated and printed. On 6 July the Pennsylvania Evening Post carried the full text on page one. And on Monday 8 July at noon in the State House Yard, the Declaration was read aloud – and the celebrating began. Finally, on 2 August 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed. (John Adams. By David McCullough. pp 136-137) May our celebrations of America’s birthday be marked with a renewed “reliance on the protection of divine Providence” who enables us to do the work of living out the truth that all people are created equal and that all people are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 3 July 2018 11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. – Psalm 5:11   Though the break with England was made on 2 July, still there was much to be done. Congress had to review and approve the drafted declaration before it could be made official. On 3 July the work of revising Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence continued. Many changes were made and a quarter of what Mr. Jefferson had written was cut out entirely. (John Adams. By David McCullough. p 130) The final July 3rd revision added the phrase, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” to the Declaration’s final sentence. Mr. Jefferson’s closing line now read, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” (Ibid. p 135) What a wonderful way to live out our Faith as Americans! May we pledge to Jesus and each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 2 July 2018 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. – Deuteronomy 4:9   “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival,” John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail.  More than anyone else it was John Adams who through his strong debate and impassioned plea for independence, made the unanimous 2 July vote in favor of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence happen. (John Adams. By David McCullough. Pages 130, 127, 129)   Did you catch the date? The second of July. On 2 July just before Congresses usual 9:00pm closing time Caeasar Rodney who had ridden eighty miles from Delaware to be present to cast his vote for American Independence charged into the chamber. Rodney was present, but two Pennsylvania representatives were missing. Refusing to vote for independence but understanding that Congress needed to speak with a unified voice, they absented themselves from the proceedings making it possible for the Pennsylvania delegation to be in favor of independence. New York abstained, but South Carolina joined the majority. The vote went quickly. The deed was done.  The break with England was made late in the night of 2 July 1776.  (Ibid. p 129)   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

 

Saturday 16 June 2018 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor – Ecclesiastes 4:9   Scuba divers use the buddy system. The kids in the youth group need to have someone with them when we travel. Whenever I climb a ladder I want someone with me. Getting a proper perspective on the issues that confront us in life requires that we share our thoughts and ideas with someone else. King Solomon, one of the wisest people to walk in the world declares that two are better than one. God creates us for community. God calls us to be in a close relationship with Jesus. God gives us others so that we will not go through life solo. Two are truly better than one. Who is the person in your life that gives you the strength of two? This person is God’s gift to you.   I am on vacation from Monday 18June – Sunday 30 June. The Daily Faith Builder will resume on Monday 2 July.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric    Friday 15 June 2018 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3    Placing a stole around my neck in June of 1994, Bishop Minnick ordained me as an elder in the United Methodist Church. Each Sunday as I put on my stole I remember that by God’s faithful love I have life in Jesus. Every morning God gives us the gifts of His unconditional love and steadfast faithfulness. What can you put on to remind you of God’s love and faithfulness? Could it be a necklace, a neck tie, buttoning a collar, putting on a shirt? Please take some time today to make something a sign for yourself that you have been bound to Jesus who fills you with His love and faithfulness. “Lord Jesus Christ bind Your love and faithfulness to me so that I may possess a heart that loves You faithfully. Amen.”   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

 
Thursday 14 June 2018

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” – Joshua 2:12-13   Because Rahab has shown kindness to the Israelite spies, the scarlet rope in her window will serve as a sign to the other Israelites that her home and family are to be kept safe during the battle for Jericho. There are times in our lives when we need God’s people to keep us safe from harm, from disbelief, or from unhealthy behaviors. Sometimes we need a brother or sister in Christ to rescue us from loneliness, depression, deep grief or fearful uncertainty. Who are the one or two people in your life to whom you can go for safekeeping? And who are the people for whom you are the one providing safety? Jesus calls all of us to be people who can offer someone a place of safety and restoration.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 13 June 2018 12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” – Joshua 2:12-13   Outsmarting Egypt, the strongest nation on earth. Crossing the Red Sea between two walls of water. Rahab and the citizens Jericho know well the amazing care God has given the Israelites. Caught between the hatred of her leaders for Israel, and the need for God’s people to pass through the land, Rahab fears for her life. Because she has risked her life for the Israelite spies, Rahab insists they promise to protect her and her family. We make promises to family, friends, employers, our church and others. Jesus promises us that that if we chose to love Him we will enjoy a life that is satisfying, meaningful and everlasting. Because Jesus keeps His promise to us, we can make good on our promises to others.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 12 June 2018 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. – Joshua 2:4   When the Israelite spies enter Jericho and are looking for a place of protection, a woman named Rahab offers them shelter. Rahab risks her safety and her life by providing hospitality. Offering hospitality and creating an environment of welcome involves risk. When Jesus welcomes tax collectors and other sinners to live life with Him, people accuse Him of compromising God’s way of living. Who do we need to welcome into our lives as individuals, and as a Church Family?  The welcome may involve risks. But Jesus is with us. Rahab received God’s blessing of protection for welcoming the Israelites. We receive Christ’s blessings when we take the risk of offering hospitality.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 11 June 2018 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. – Joshua 2:1   Before making the Promised Land Israel’s home, Joshua must first occupy Jericho. Before occupying Israel, Joshua needs to develop a strategy, which requires that he learn about Jericho by sending some spies into the city. If someone were to observe all that we do today, all day, without us knowing they were watching, what would they see? What would we prefer they not see? What weaknesses would they suggest we give to God? What strengths would they say God has given to us? What thoughts, decisions, attitudes and beliefs are we keeping from God? What areas need to change so that we can more fully enjoy the abundant, joyous life that Jesus has for us?   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 9 June 2018 10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’” – Joshua 1:10-11   After God calls Joshua to be brave and courageous and assures him that wherever he goes, God will be with him, the Lord tells Joshua that he will lead the Israelites across the Jordan River and into Canaan. Leading the Israelites through a river and into the land of the mighty Canaanites will take courage, strength and much faith in God. What huge challenges are confronting you today? What in your future is filling you with fear? Be assured that God is with you and God will give you the all strength and the courage you need to meet the challenge, faithfully navigate the tough times and enter a place of blessing and peace that Jesus has for you to enjoy.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 8 June 2018 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9   After Moses dies, his protégé Joshua becomes Israel’s new leader. For forty years Moses served as the leader of God’s people. No one knew any leader but Moses. Transitioning from a military leader to the leader who will bring his nation into the Promised Land fills Joshua with fear. As he assumes leadership, Joshua receives a word from God that sets the tone for his tenure as Israel’s leader. “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged…”  On the days when the challenges confronting you are overwhelming, during the nights when you lie awake worrying, please remember God’s word to Joshua, and know that it is God’s word to you. Through the grace of Jesus, you shall be strong, you shall be courageous, you shall be at peace because Jesus is with you.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 7 June 2018 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:11   Who are the people you thoroughly enjoy being with? Who are the people, that when you are with them you feel good about yourself, and you feel better about the world? Who are the people who restore your hope, renew your strength and rejuvenate your perspective? These are the people through whom the presence of Jesus comes to us. These are the ones offering us glimpses into God’s kingdom of joy. Jesus lives through these special people to show us the path of life. Through their joyous lovingkindness God keeps us on life’s path which is filled with sacred pleasures to be enjoyed in this life and in God’s kingdom. Praise God for these great people! How wonderfully good is our Great God!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 6 June 2018 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. – Psalm 16:9-10   Happiness is determined by external circumstances. Joy is a deep inner happiness that comes from the assurance that Jesus is loves us, Jesus is with us, and somehow Jesus is bringing good out of every situation and circumstance we experience in life. This deep inner happiness is rooted in the reality that God will never abandon us. Happiness decays, but joy is everlasting because our joy comes from Jesus who never defeated death’s decay. Joy is present within us always because Jesus is in us filling us with a gladness that no one and nothing can take from us.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 5 June 2018 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 16:8   Distracted driving is dangerous – leading us to suffer near misses, causing us to scare others, forcing us to take evasive actions that would otherwise be unnecessary. Distracted driving can lead to car crashes, injuries and even death. Distracted living is dangerous too. Distracted living leads us to make poor decisions, creates stress within us and others, strains relationships, causes regret and multiplies our problems. Distracted living can lead to life crashes that bring injuries and even death. Distracted driving happens when we take our eyes off the road. Distracted living happens when we take our eyes off Jesus. Keep your eyes on the road. And turn your eyes upon Jesus!    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 4 June 2018 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. – Psalm 16:7   When our desire is for God to guide our contemplations, inform our decisions, shape our desires and direct our actions we open ourselves to the Lord’s wonderful counsel. God’s guiding, informing, shaping and directing presence instructs us during the day through our thoughts and activities. And God’s guiding, informing, shaping and directing presence instructs us while we sleep as the Lord uses this time of stillness to mature our perspectives. Whether awake or asleep we are never left on our own. We live all of life under the loving care of Jesus. Such wonderful assurance gives us good reason for praise and peace.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 2 June 2018 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. – Psalm 16:6   Sometimes life is mundane. Sometimes life is going wonderfully well for us. Occasionally things go terribly wrong in our lives. But in all times Jesus is with us to strengthen us, comfort us, and keep us in His perfect care. Regardless of the circumstances we face in life, Jesus is with us to give us abundant life that is rich with God’s love, God’s strength, God’s peace and God’s promise of life that lasts long beyond the years we spend in this world. Surely we have a delightful inheritance!  When we place our trust in Jesus our lives are good in ways that no bad can ever overcome. When we are in Christ the boundary lines of our lives fall in pleasant places.    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 1 June 2018 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. – Psalm 16:5   God is our portion – working through nature, friends, family and circumstances to supply our needs. God is our cup – quenching our thirst for forgiveness, for belonging and for a meaningful life. God is our security – assuring us that though sickness, stress and the aging process can harm our bodies, we are forever safe in the arms of Jesus who tells us that He has power over all that exists. As you go through your day, please be assured that Jesus is your portion, your cup and your security forever.   Sincerely, Pastor Ric    Thursday 31 May 2018 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35   There are morning people. There are people who have to get up in the morning. Which are you? I’m a morning person. I love mornings! Yesterday I woke up at 3:45 filled with anticipation for my first early outdoor run of the season. By 4:52 there was enough light out for a safe run. The pink horizon, the birds singing, the squirrels and rabbits jumping about, the full moon on the western horizon and the damp morning air fueled my wonder and inspired my prayers. Whether you are a morning person or a person who has to get up in the morning, take two minutes this morning to be in a solitary place where you can converse with God, and receive the new beginnings He has for you on this new day.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 30 May 2018 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” – Jonah 2:9   For two weeks I endured laryngitis. While struggling to speak, I realized how unappreciative I was of God’s gift of voice. It’s easy to take things for granted. Growing closer to Jesus grows our gratitude for the many gifts God daily gives us: People who love us unconditionally and friends who like us; we are surrounded by beautiful springtime flowers and their fragrances – the rhododendrons and azaleas are beautiful; homes that give us a place for rest and renewal. Please take time to appreciate the gifts. Appreciation always leads to enjoyment. Enjoying God’s good gifts always fills our hearts with grateful praise.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 29 May 2018 45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. – Psalm 119:45   “Some people carry their prisons wherever they go,” Chirrut Imwe tells Rebellion soldier Cassian Andor, in the movie “Star Wars – Rogue One”. We may be free to come and go as we please, but often we find ourselves imprisoned by fears, regrets, guilt, bitterness, sorrow or worry. The author of Psalm 119 enjoys freedom that comes discovering God’s way through God’s words in the Bible. Every day throughout the history of humanity God gives Himself to us with a love that forgives, heals, saves and brings freedom. Jesus does not want us carrying our prisons with us wherever we go. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! What imprisons you today? Please offer it to Jesus and walk about in freedom!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

 

Monday 28 May 2018 – Memorial Day 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again. – I Samuel 7:12-13   By God’s grace and through God’s strength the tiny Israelite army defeats the mighty Philistine army. To commemorate the Lord’s protecting care, Samuel sets a stone as a monument and calls it Ebenezer. Ebenezer means “stone of help”. On this Memorial Day we give thanks to God for the women and men who gave their lives in service to our Nation. God worked through these courageous servants to bring us His help and protecting care. They are our Ebenezers. Through the parades ceremonies, and gravestones that mark of this sacred day, God calls us to remember those who gave their lives for us, and to renew our love for Jesus, the Solid Rock upon whom we all stand.   Memorial Day Blessings, Pastor Ric   Saturday 26 May 2018 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” – Isaiah 40:8   Last Wednesday evening my son Jonathan told me that his class was visiting Conard High School so that they could be familiar with their soon to be new school home. How did my youngest child – born twelve years after our firstborn – become a high school student?! Life goes by quickly. Sometimes it feels as if the weeks are only three days long: Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. Because our days pass rapidly, it is important to make every moment count: enjoy your home; linger over the sights and scents of Springtime; enjoy your family and friends; take in all that Jesus gives you to enjoy. Take nothing for granted. Cultivate a God-inspired appreciation for life. This will not slow down the clock, but it will make every moment meaningful.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   P.S. We’ll have a wonderful time together tomorrow at 10am worshiping God and celebrating our Memorial Day heritage.   Friday 25 May 2018 I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. – Song of Songs 2:1

The flowerbed in the backyard of my childhood home was filled with lily of the valley flowers. Their rich, perfumelike fragrance and delicate beauty is captivating. I’ve brought some of these lilies to each place I’ve lived. These beautiful lilies of the valley trace their lineage back to my childhood home. They remind me that the beauty and sweet fragrance of Jesus’ love has been with me all my life. Like the love of Jesus, lilies of the valley are unobtrusive, easily overlooked, and always changing the world for the better. If you have the privilege to breathe in the sweet smell of a lily of the valley, you are breathing in the love of Jesus.

Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 24 May2018 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. – Acts 28:7   The smell of roast beef and gravy filled the air. Sitting down to dinner with Lisa (now my wife) and her parents for the first time was a delicious experience! Even more wonderful was the welcome Lisa’s dad gave me each time I came to see Lisa or showed up for work (as his carpenter’s apprentice). “Hello Richie!” he’d say with a big smile and warm enthusiasm. Warm heartfelt welcomes make us feel special. After suffering a shipwreck on Malta, the Apostle Paul experiences the warm welcome of Publius. Sincere, heartfelt welcomes transform the worst of days into good days. Who blesses you with warm welcomes? Please offer warm welcomes today so that lives will be brightened with the love of Jesus.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 23 May 2018 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…” – Acts 2:14   During Jesus’ trial, Peter denies three times that he knows Jesus. When Jesus is on the cross, a fearful Peter is nowhere to be seen. After Jesus’ body is placed in the tomb, Peter goes back to fishing. Fifty days after Easter, Peter and Jesus’ followers are locked in a room when the Holy Spirit comes through closed doors, filling all present with the presence and power of Jesus. Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus now stands before thousands of people, explaining that Jesus is the Savior of the world. What in your life makes you afraid? Offer that place to the Holy Spirit. Feel the Holy Spirit filling that place in you with the courageous presence of Jesus, who is bringing you the same transformation He brought to Peter.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

 
Tuesday 22 May 2018

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. – Acts 2:1, 4   Jesus loves us so much that He goes to the cross for us – taking upon Himself all our wrongdoing. We matter so much to Jesus that He rises from the dead to bring us life that lasts forever. The Lord values His relationship with us so deeply that He promises to send us the Holy Spirit. Fifty days after the first Easter, the Disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit. As Jesus comes alive within the Disciples, they are filled with Christ’s presence, power and love. Today, take a moment to place your palms up and feel the Holy Spirit filling you, and making Jesus come alive in you in ways that will bring strength to your heart, joy to your spirit and vitality to your life.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 21 May 2018 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:3-6   Yesterday, 20 June, when seven young people stood before their First United Methodist Church, Meriden Family and gave their lives to Jesus, God began a good work in them. The good work God began in them is being in a growing relationship with Jesus; enjoying Jesus’ love for them; desiring to share Jesus’ love with others through kind and joyous service and living good and faithful lives. When did God begin this good work in you? For me it was in 1981. Because Jesus begins this work in us, He will carry it on to completion. All we need to do is daily receive Christ’s presence and enjoy His love. Jesus is doing the rest.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 19 May 2018  I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. – 2 Timothy 1:5   Experiencing the presence and love of Jesus through his Grandmother and Mom, leads Timothy to Faith in Jesus. Tomorrow a group of young people will give their lives to Jesus and join First United Methodist Church, Meriden. Our commitment to loving Jesus is the key to nurturing their Faith and keeping them within the joy, guidance and love of their Church Family. All of us have a Lois and a Eunice in our lives – women who led us to Faith in Jesus and nurtured our commitment to Jesus. God calls us to be people who live the love of Jesus in ways that lead younger generations to see our Faith and place their trust in Jesus. Whether we are women or men, there is some Lois and Eunice in all of us!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 18 May 2018 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. – Acts 4:36-37   Hearing the good news of God’s love in Jesus fills a faithful Israelite with such joy that he sells his field and gives the money to First Church, Jerusalem. Joseph is so joyous and helpful that the Apostles give him the nickname Barnabas – son of encouragement. Barnabas is one of my favorite Bible people. After answering the call to love and serve Jesus, Barnabas gives generously, mentors the Apostle Paul (Paul would not be who he was without Barnabas), and he gives a young Christian named John Mark a second chance when Paul refuses. When Jesus lives in us, He fills us with encouragement that brings us strength, joy and gracious lovingkindness.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 17  May 2018

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” …Then he said to him, “Follow me!” – John 21:17, 19b

When my children were young and my career was new I thought, “When they are older, life will calm down.” Wrong! Life happens. We get busy. Really busy. As busyness, disappointment and stress pile up, Jesus’ place in our life sometimes diminishes. This is what happens to Peter. This inner-circle disciple gets stressed out by Jesus’ death and decides to go his own way. But Jesus will not let Peter go. He loves Peter too much. “Follow me,” Jesus says again to Peter, just as He did years earlier. Whenever busyness, stress and disappointment fill our lives, Jesus comes to us, and says to us once again, “Follow me.” Whatever is happening in life Jesus loves you too much to let you go.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 16 May 2018 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” – John 11:43-44   Trudging through life’s trials brings us to places where our strength, our hope, our joy dies. All seems cold, dark and lonely. We are living but we do not feel alive. When Jesus arrives in Bethany, His dear friend Lazarus is four days in the grave. Standing at Lazarus’ burial cave, Jesus says, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus rises from the dead. When we feel like dead people walking, Jesus comes to us and calls us from our tombs of sorrow, despair, hopelessness and loneliness. Jesus calls us, and with His life-restoring power Jesus resurrects our strength, our hope, and our joy. Whatever life’s trials, we will always hear Jesus calling us and bringing us new life.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 15 May 2018 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. – Luke 5:8-11   It’s the end of a frustrating workday for Peter, James and John when they meet Jesus. While cleaning their fishing nets after catching nothing, these fishermen hear Jesus saying to them, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” The only thing keeping them from telling Jesus to get lost is the fact that he is a Rabbi. Out of dutiful respect they do what Jesus asks. The catch is huge. Suddenly they feel unworthy. Jesus’ response is, “From now on you will fish for people.” Jesus comes to us when we least expect Him, often when we are tired or frustrated and He invites us to follow Him, not because we are righteous but because He knows we need His loving, restoring and guiding presence.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 14 May 2018 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. – 1 Corinthians 15:6   On the first Easter Sunday, the risen Jesus shows Himself to the women who came to His tomb to prepare His body for burial. Throughout Easter Sunday and for thirty-nine days after, Jesus appears before His followers – teaching them, eating with them, encouraging them. When Jesus ascends physically into heaven, he has spent time with 500 people. Five hundred people see the risen Jesus. Jesus wants the world to know that He really is alive. On those days when you feel weary, blue, overwhelmed or alone, please remember that Jesus is alive, He is with You, He is taking care of you, and He is working through everything in your life to bring you to a place of joy.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 12 May 2018 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. – Acts 16:14-15   Lydia is a savvy business woman whose company specializes in high end purple cloth. Purple was a luxurious color because it was very rare. The “Color Matters” website says that in ancient times it took 12,000 shellfish to make 1.5 grams of pure purple dye. Lydia brought her wise tenacity to her faith. After the Apostle Paul leads Lydia to place her trust in Jesus, this wonderful businesswoman convinces Paul and his colleagues to stay at her home. Lydia’s financial and business support make it possible for Paul to start the Philippian church, which becomes the most faithful, joyous and loving church in the ancient world! And it’s all thanks to Lydia. Praise God for the women whose tenacity and business savvy make life better in the name of Jesus for so many around the world!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 11 May 2018 21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. – Matthew 15:21-28   From the beginning of Israel’s existence, the Canaanites worked to wipe Israel from the earth. But this Canaanite Mom is different. Jesus tests her faith by saying that He has come only for the children of Israel. Knowing with all her heart that Jesus has come for everyone, this woman of Faith answers Jesus’ seemingly heartless pronouncement with words that show her deep trust in Jesus. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs…” All she needs is a little bit of God’s grace to heal her daughter. Her huge faith leads her to say that a tiny bit of grace will be sufficient. This woman’s great trust in Jesus brings healing to her daughter. There are women in our lives whose great faith in Jesus brings God’s healing to us and others!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

 

Thursday 10 May 2018 36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them [Mary, Joseph and Jesus] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38   Anna loved the Lord with everything in her, and spent her life enjoying God’s love. Elated to see her infant Savior at the Temple, Anna shares the great news of God’s entrance into the world with everyone. Anna’s love for God fills her with a joy that brightens the lives of all who spend time with her. God blesses us with women whose deep joy brightens our lives and strengthens our spirits. My Great Grammy Hanse showed me the joy of Jesus. Her deep love for Jesus and beautiful smile radiated the joy of the Lord. Praise God for the “Annas” in our lives, whose joy in the Lord brings us strength.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

 
Wednesday 9 May 2018

Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. – Judges 4:4-5   After Moses and Joshua, and before the kings, Israel was led by rulers called judges. Deborah is one of Israel’s great judges. Deborah is a woman of wisdom and a great military strategist. When the Canaanites sought to wipe Israel from the world, Deborah shares a strategy with General Barak that will defeat the Canaanites. Barak depends on Deborah for confidence and success. Who are the wise women in your life whose strategies guide you to places of confidence and success? These women are gifts from God. Their wisdom and confidence are rooted in their relationship with Jesus. Whether living in this world or God’s Kingdom these great women of God are continually guiding us.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 8 May 2018 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. – Exodus 2:5   Refusing to abandon her baby brother, Miriam runs along the riverbank following the basket until it comes to rest in a reed bank. Seeing the Princess of Egypt cooing over her newfound treasure, Miriam bravely approaches her asking, “Shall I get one of the Hebrew women to nurse your baby?” “Yes.” Miriam returns with Moses’ mother! The Princess pays Jochebed to nurse Moses until he’s old enough to live with her in the palace. Miriam’s courageous commitment to her brother’s wellbeing is inspiring. Sisters are gifts from God who can be real lifesavers! Some sisters are members of our families. Many more of our sisters are women in our Church Families. Who is that special sister in Christ who has courageously worked for your wellbeing? Give thanks to God for her! And be sure to thank her as well.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   P.S. – The laryngitis continues. I am still your voiceless Rev. Praise God for email and text messaging!   Monday 7 May 2018 59 the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam. – Numbers 26:59   This week we’ll celebrate faithful women who show us the love of Jesus. Let’s spend today with Moses’ Mom Jochebed – a clever woman of courage. The king of Egypt has issued a decree that any boy born to a Hebrew woman be thrown into the Nile River to drown. After giving birth to Moses, Jochebed hides him for as long as possible. When she can no longer conceal her baby, Jochebed weaves a basket, waterproofs it with pitch, places the boy in the mini ark and sets the precious cargo adrift on the Nile river. Jochebed’s courageous cleverness gives Moses a chance at survival. While thinking about Jochebed today, let’s celebrate the women in our lives whose clever courage has blessed us.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 5 May 2018 36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. – Isaiah 37:36-37   Faced with the annihilation of his people, and seeing no other nation coming to his aid, King Hezekiah begs God to protect his beloved nation of Judah. God, who has a special place in His heart for the persecuted and oppressed, sends an angel of the Lord into the Syrian army camp, and in a single night, one angel kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Bad things happen to us, and we do not understand why, but Jesus is always with us, holding us, protecting us, giving us a life that lasts long after we leave this world. Whenever you feel trapped and all seems hopeless do not fear because God will make a way.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 4 May 2018 18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God. – Isaiah 37:18-20   After receiving word that Sennacherib of Assyria is planning to destroy Jerusalem a fearful King Hezekiah begs God to protect his beloved nation. Rather than turning to his generals, Hezekiah turns to God. Who and do we turn to when we are filled with desperate anguish? Do we turn to Jesus? The hymn declares, “What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear…” When life is difficult please turn to Jesus. Please give your fears, your anger, your sorrow, your anguish to Jesus. Jesus loves you, He is with you (whether or not you feel Him) and He is taking care of you. Jesus has brought me through the terrible times and I know He is doing the same for you.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 3 May 2018 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. – Mark 12:28-29   God is perfect unity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are so perfectly united that they are one. Unity is life. Unity is joy. Unity is health. When all of the parts of our bodies enjoy unity, we are healthy. When our families at home and at church enjoy unity, there is a wonderful love we have for one another – a love that grows health and life. Disunity in our bodies brings disease. Disunity in our families brings dysfunction. But disunity is never stronger than unity.  Because God is perfect unity, God is working to bring the health and life that are found in unity. What within your life needs unity? Please offer it to God who is One and who is restoring unity in, to and for you.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 2 May 2018 Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. – Isaiah 35:1c-2   The bloodroots are blooming in my back yard. Henry and Madelyn Woods who built and enjoyed the home Lisa and I now call home planted these wonderful flowers. During the cool cloudiness of Monday, the bloodroots did not open. But the sunny warmth of Tuesday caused them to burst into bloom. One of my favorite hymns declares, “Joyful, joyful we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love. Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.” Through the bright beauty of springtime’s bursting blooms feel the love of Jesus shining on upon you and melting the clouds of sin and sadness as your heart opens to God the Son who loves you.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric

Bloodroot Flowers

 

Tuesday 1 May 2018 The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. – Isaiah 35:1-2a   Desert days. From time to time we experience periods in life when our spirits are dry, our hearts feel weary, and we are worn out. God feels far away, and we wonder if we really do have a Friend in Jesus. During these dry spells when enjoying God’s love does not come easily, we must choose to love Jesus and talk with Jesus – even though we don’t think He’s listening. During these desert periods we need to do the work of believing – not because we feel Jesus, but because we know that regardless of how dry we feel, Jesus is with us, Jesus is holding us, Jesus is loving us. During those desert days please know that Jesus loves you and He is bringing you to a place refreshment, peace and healing.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 30 April 2018 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. – James 1:5   Most of us believe that we must have it all together if we want to be successful in life. When we take this conventional “wisdom” to heart we go through life working to keep control over our lives. Don’t you find this exhausting? Eventually we come to the place where we are unable to keep it all together. How wonderful it is to serve a God who does not expect us to have it all together. Through Faith, God lovingly shows that it is impossible for us to have it all together – to be perfect. True wisdom is accepting our limitations and allowing Jesus to come into every place of our lives that is out of sorts, so we can receive Christ’s healing, renewing, strengthening love which always leads us to places of peaceful joy, no matter the circumstances.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 28 April 2018 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6   Think of the many ways God has been good to you. God has blessed you with: Wonderful memories of times enjoyed with family and friends; days of health and strength; food to enjoy; friends with whom to enjoy life; perseverance that brings you through trying times; a home in which to live; skills; creative outlets for your passions. Please take some time to think of the ways in which you have experienced God’s goodness. When we think of the ways God has been good to us our hearts fill with joyful songs of praise to God.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Friday 27 April 2018 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? – Psalm 13:2    Thoughts flood our mind all day, every day, day after day. Thoughts that don’t get thought out during the day work themselves out as dreams in the night. Our thoughts are a great mixture of good, bad, happy, morose, peaceful, anxious, selfless, wrong and righteous. Some thoughts we would happily share with others. Other thoughts we would prefer God not know. Have you ever wrestled with your thoughts? Living a life of faith involves wrestling with our thoughts. Whatever our thoughts are, when we invite Jesus to be present in them we do not have to wrestle with our thoughts on your own. Jesus will be with us to redeem, renew and work through our thoughts.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 26 April 2018 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2a   “Happy Birthday Philip!” I exclaimed on 2 April while speaking with my brother. “Thanks Bro! I am finally buying a Cadillac! I figured that I’d get one for my 49th birthday.” I was thrilled. Wonderful memories of riding with my Pops Mercaldi in his De Ville’s filled my mind. “Philip, the last time a ‘Phil’ in our family had a Cadillac was in 1975,” I said with tears in my eyes. When our call ended, I realized in a new way that the people who showed us Jesus’ and His love while they lived in this world are now cheering us on from the Kingdom of Heaven. Please know that each and everyday Jesus surrounds us with people who are cheering us on from heaven. Look up, feel their encouragement, and keep persevering!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 25 April 2018 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. – Psalm 33:5   Human anger, hatred, bitterness and greed scar the world in which we live. Sometimes we are saddened, overwhelmed and even depressed by the bad that surrounds us. Whenever such darkness encroaches please remember verse three of “This Is My Father’s World”. “This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!” Jesus returns human hatred with God’s extraordinary, life-restoring love when on the cross, He prays for those who persecute Him unto death saying, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” Our God Jesus Christ, rules in love. Love and life always triumph!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 24 April 2018 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7   One of God’s blessings in spring is the wonderful symphony of birdsong that greets us each morning. God’s songbirds remind us that the Lord who treasures the seemingly most insignificant of birds (sparrows) treasures us far more.  Through the singing of the sparrows, the tweets of the cardinals and the calls of the blue jays God assures us of His great love for us.  As Maltbie Babcock declares, “This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise. This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair; in the rustling grass I hear Him pass; He speaks to me everywhere.” Enjoy God’s conversation with you today!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 23 April 2018 12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. – Psalm 50:12   This verse is one of several Scriptures that inspired Maltbie Davenport Babcock’s famous song, “This Is My Father’s World”.  When the Presbyterian pastor lived “in Lockport, he took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook’s panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario, telling his wife he was “going out to see the Father’s world.” (Wikipedia)  Please enjoy verse one as you enjoy God’s gift of Springtime.  “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.  This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; His hand the wonders wrought.”    Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Saturday 21 April 2018 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:4-5   We all experience times of weeping in our lives. These are the difficult days, weeks, months, years, when the trials of life make us feel small, inadequate, ineffective, sad, overwhelmed, lost and lonely. When we are in the thick of these dark times we feel like we’ll never see the light of better times. But darkness is never permanent. Morning always arrives. Looking back at the terrible trials I have experienced in my life, I see clearly that morning does come, and with the daylight of new beginnings there is always healing, there is always rejoicing. Joy comes in the morning! Back in 1982 a new musical group called “Glad” recorded a great song based on Psalm 30. “Joy Comes In The Morning” always assures me that there is far more rejoicing in our lives than there is sorrow. During your dark days, please remember that a day of rejoicing is coming for you!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric     Friday 20 April 2018 16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. – Isaiah 32:16-17   Did you know a hammer can be righteous? So can a car. A furnace can be righteous too. When hammers are used to drive nails, they are righteous. Cars that reliably get us to our destinations are righteous. Furnaces that keep us warm on these cold spring mornings (and days and nights!) are righteous. Something is righteous when it is doing what it is designed to do. God is righteous when He creates, loves, forgives, frees and sustains life. We are righteous when we enjoy God’s love. We are designed to enjoy God’s love by being in a close relationship with Jesus. When we enjoy God’s love, the presence of Jesus quiets our hearts and fills us with confidence. When we do what we are designed to do the quiet, confident peace of Jesus carries us through every situation and season of life.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Thursday 19 April 2018 My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. – Psalm 108:1   What is your favorite style of music? Or are you like me and enjoy many styles? I love hymns (my favorites are “O God Our Help In Ages Past”, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee). Choral music feeds my spirit (“Simple Gifts”, “Gloria” by John Rutter). Forties popular music brightens my days (“Midnight Sun”, “Sing, Sing, Sing”). And jazz shows me the richness of God’s beauty (“Inside” and “Pent Up House” by George Shearing, “Maiden Voyage” by Bobby Hutcherson). Music is one of God’s great gifts. Music touches our souls, stirs our emotions and shows us the love of Jesus in ways no other medium can match. When we enjoy music, we are enjoying the love of Jesus, who fills us with songs of praise to our God.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Wednesday 18 April 2018 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17   Opening a new bag of coffee, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the aroma! The soothing waters of a hot shower on a cold April morning delighted my soul. Hearing the early morning songs of birds in my back yard made me smile. Enjoying a slice of pie during a good meeting with great people on Monday evening filled my heart with happiness. Listening to my son describe a story he is writing refreshes my spirit. One of my favorite songs is “Simple Gifts” Everyday God lovingly surrounds us with simple gifts. These good gifts nurture our hope, sustain our joy, strengthen our spirits, warm our hearts and put smiles on our faces. Today Jesus is pouring His love on you through simple gifts. Please be sure to enjoy them!   Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Tuesday 17 April 2018

27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. – Luke 5:27
 
“Ben Hur” with Charlton Heston is one of my favorite movies. Years ago, I wanted my teenage daughters to experience “Ben Hur”. Making them watch a four-hour movie was not a good idea! Last week I asked Jonathan if he’d like to watch “Ben Hur” with me in small segments. “Sure!” he said. We watched an hour a day. “How did you like it?” I asked, when “The End” covered the screen. “I liked it!” he said. Being invitational is always best. Jesus never forces Himself on us. “Follow me,” is never a demand or a command. It is always an opportunity. Just as Judah Ben Hur’s life changes for the better when he accepts Jesus’ invitation, ours does too!
 

Affectionately, Pastor Ric   Monday 16 April 2018 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:11   Looking out the window before going to bed last night I was surprised to see glistening sleet covering the yard and street. While I am ready for the warmth of spring, the sleet does not dampen my spirits because it is temporary. Through this springtime sleet storm God reminds us that joy does not come from sunny days or times of ease. Joy – the deep inner happiness of Jesus – comes from the everlasting pleasures God gives us every day. The sleet may last for the day, but God’s unconditional love lasts forever. The cold may chill our happiness, but the forgiveness of Jesus is permanent. Disappointment, loneliness and sorrow may cool our happiness, but the friendship and healing we receive from Jesus and others who love God will warm us with joy that lasts. God’s eternal pleasures are strong and last forever.   Affectionately, Pastor Ric