Saturday 6 March 2021
24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
 
The sun rises, the sky brightens, the temperature warms. God gives us another day. God created today so we could receive God’s love, enjoy God’s love, and offer God’s love to others. Whatever happens throughout the course of today, please remember that this is the day the Lord has made. God, who made today is with us to love us throughout today, tomorrow and forever.  
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 5 March 2021

12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12

 
Traffic, like time, is best when it’s not standing still. And we don’t want either to move too quickly. But time like – like most drivers – speeds. Weekends pass by too fast. Even workweeks can feel like they’re only three days long. We begin our adult life with 40 work years ahead of us and before we know it, we are heading towards retirement. Because life passes quickly, we need to ask ourselves, “God, what do you want my life to look like? Lord, whom do you want me to be?” This is what it means to number our days. Whatever our age, it is never too late to ask God what He wants us to do, and who He wants us to be.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 4 March 2021
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. – Psalm 90:4
 
My oldest child, Ashley celebrated her twenty-ninth birthday on Tuesday. Between 25 February and 2 March, the birthdays of my youngest and oldest children remind me of how quickly time passes. How can my youngest child be seventeen?! How can it be that I only have nine-and-a-half years till retirement? When I was younger, I was always looking to the future. Nowadays, I want to be fully present in the present. God is teaching me to savor the here and now by learning from the trials, enjoying the blessings, and being content with Jesus’ constant presence in each moment of the here and now. God’s name is, after all, “I Am”.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 3 March 2021
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. – Psalm 90:2
 
The past twelve months have been marked by massive change. Change is disorienting and painful. Fortunately, God gives us unchanging constants. These “north-stars” of life include family and friends who love us; pets who give great companionship; homes that shelter us with peace; a church family that keeps us grounded in God’s love; songs of faith that feed our souls; the Bible’s stories of our great and loving God. In the song, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, Isaac Watts writes, “Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.” How wonderful that God’s unchanging love is a “north star” constant in our lives.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 2 March 2021
 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. – Psalm 90:1
 
As a child I was fascinated by shadows. At a certain angle, the sun made my shadow long. I felt so tall! Shadows can be comforting. A tree’s shadow gives shade on a hot day. The shadow of a loving and protective adult gives comfort to children. A friend’s shadow assures us that we are not alone. “Under the shadow of Thy throne, still may we dwell secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defense is sure,” writes Isaac Watts. Our security comes from God, under whose strong and loving care we live forever. Today, please feel the shadow of God covering you with love, protection and provision
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 1 March 20201
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23:1-3
 
When I was in my twenties, home was where I kept my tools and repaired my cars. When I became a Dad, home was the place where we raised our children. Today, home is the place I experience God’s love and blessings through work (the bulk of which I do from home during the pandemic), family, and the and space in which life is lived. Home is a sacred space for experiencing and sharing God’s restoring love. God invites us to make our homes havens of blessing and peace by receiving the love, and peace of Jesus, who fills us and our homes with His presence.  
 

Affectionately,

Ric

 
Saturday 27 February 2021
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. – Isaiah 30:15
 
The rest that makes a good night’s sleep possible is the deep renewing rest we experience when we enjoy life lived in the center of Jesus’ love. Living in the center of Jesus love means turning away from thoughts, attitudes and actions that take us away from loving God and loving people. The Bible’s word for “turning away from wrong” is “repentance.” Repentance brings rest because repentance brings us into the center of Jesus’ love. Jesus’ love heals our brokenness, reorients our loves, and calms our minds. Jesus’ love brings rest.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 26 February 2021
20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20
 
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. Jesus is God’s great “Yes!” to humankind. Through Jesus, God says, “Yes, I love you. Yes, you are free you from everlasting darkness. Yes, I give you the ability to turn from all that is brings you harm. Yes, I am with you always. Yes, I am giving you a good and fulfilling life that lasts forever.” These are Jesus’ great gifts to us. To receive and enjoy them we simply say “Yes, Jesus I love you.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 25 February 2021
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field. – Psalm 103:15
 
Seventeen years ago, on the evening of Ash Wednesday 2004, my youngest child, Jonathan, was born. Life goes by too quickly to squander a single moment. God – whose name is “I Am”, calls us to live in the present tense. Every day Jesus invites us to be fully present in each moment. Longing for the past, fixating on the future, or mindlessly “going through the motions” of daily life are wastes of precious time. Where did seventeen years go?! Answering God’s call to live in the present doesn’t slow time, but it makes relationships strong, and life wonderfully satisfying.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 24 February 2021
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. – Psalm 126:3
 
When clouds of anxiety, sadness, doubt, or fear cast shadows over my spirit, I think of the great things God has done for me. Remembering these great things melts the clouds of sadness and drives the dark of doubt away. No matter how difficult things are, God continues doing great things for us. Some of the great things God does are huge. Many of the great things are small, but significant. Whenever clouds of anxiety, sadness, doubt, or fear cast shadows over your spirit, please pray, “The Lord has done great things for me.” As Jesus brings those great things to your mind the clouds will clear and your joy will return.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 23 February 2021
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
 
God’s songs of joy carry us through days of pain and nights of fear. Songs of joy are never extinguished because joy is a Jesus-given happiness that lives deep in our souls. Whenever pain and fear seem to be getting the better of us, God gives us songs of joy that fix focus on Jesus, heal the pain we suffer, and dispel our fears with Jesus’ peace. What are your songs of joy? Mine include, “O God Our Help in Ages Past”, “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” When fear and pain persist, songs of joy always overcome.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 22 February 2021
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. – Psalm 126:1
 
When Artaxerxes becomes King of Persia in 465 B.C., he allows his trusted wine taster Nehemiah to oversee the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Arriving in his ancestral homeland Nehemiah is filled with joy and sorrow. Joy at being home. Sorrow over the broken-down state of the city. Over the past eleven months we have been deprived of the fortunes of close human contact, emotional stability, and an overall sense of normalcy. While living in the desert of depravation we must remember that God is working to restore our fortunes. What fortunes need restoration in your life? Dream of the day when God will restore those fortunes. Your dreams will come true.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 20 February 2021
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. You who answer prayer, to you all people will come. – Psalm 65:1-2
 
We rarely think of God looking forward to special experiences the way we do. But David opens Psalm 65 with the wonderful words, “Praise awaits You, our God…” In the same way we look forward to a delicious meal, a good cup of coffee, a tasty dessert, or a phone call with someone special, God looks forward to enjoying our praises during worship. It is wonderful knowing that we have something to give God – something God truly enjoys and looks forward to receiving: our praise. God looks forward to Sunday even more than we do because God treasures the praises we offer in worship.  
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Friday 19 February 2021
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42
 
The one thing needed is focusing our minds, hearts and lives on Jesus. Focusing our minds on Jesus is learning about Jesus. Getting to know someone means learning about them. Knowing Jesus more intimately is learning more about Him. Focusing our hearts on Jesus is sharing our passions, desires, hopes, dreams and fears to Jesus. Focusing on Jesus is offering our lives to Jesus by offering everything we do to Jesus. One thing is needed – a life fully focused on Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 18 February 2021
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things – Luke 10:41
 
With her focus off Jesus, Martha’s agitation and anxiety grows. The same happens to me. Having a Bible verse or a Faith song at the tip of my tongue brings my focus back to Jesus. “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” are my go to songs that get my focus back on Jesus. The words of Nehemiah 8 “Do not grieve…for the joy of the Lord is your strength…” is my go-to Bible verse.  The next time agitations and anxieties get your focus off Jesus, please pray your go-to Bible verse or Faith song. You’ll be glad you did. Oh, and then do it again.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Ash Wednesday 17 February 2021
[God] raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap – Psalm 113:7
 
Yesterday morning I burned a bundle of palms from the 2019 Palm Sunday service. A small pile of ashes was all that remained. Ashes are a memorial to what was. Ashes are also an invitation to live into Jesus’ promise of what can be. Ash Wednesday 2021 reminds us of worship services that are no more, greeting lines that don’t exist, hugs and handshakes that are but memories. Ash Wednesday 2021 also invites us to live into Jesus’ promise of future days of in-person worship, handshakes and hugs. Through Ash Wednesday Jesus assures us that better days are coming because Jesus is working ALL things together for good.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 16 February 2021
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” – Luke 10:40
 
Before being distracted by what her sister was not doing, Martha delighted in preparing dinner for Jesus. Distractions get our focus off Jesus and onto our judgmental and misguided expectations of others. Soon we become crabby Christians. “Lord don’t you care that they do not do what they should be doing…” The powers of this world love it when we take our focus off Jesus and fix our attention on what we think people should be doing. Jesus’ answer is always, “Keep your focus on me, and together we’ll do the work needed to joyfully make this world a better place.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 15 February 2021
39 [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. – Luke 10:39
 
For Mary, sitting at the Lord’s feet means enjoying time with Jesus. We enjoy being with people who are easy to talk to, accepting of who we are, respectful of what we believe, and who care about our wellbeing. Jesus is easy to talk to – He wants us to share everything that’s on our minds. Jesus accepts us as we are – loving us unconditionally. Jesus is respectful of what we believe – and respectfully challenges us to examine why we believe what we do. Jesus’ willingness to become one to free us from death, proves that He cares about our wellbeing. No wonder Mary enjoyed spending time with Jesus! Today, let’s spend some time with Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 13 February 2021
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13
 
God is Love. Jesus is Love in human form. Celebrating Valentine’s day is all about celebrating God, because God is the source and center of all true love. Because we are created in God’s image, we have the capacity to love as God loves. On Valentine’s Day Sunday, be assured that Jesus loves you with a love that is patient, kind, secure, humble, courteous, gracious, open, good-natured, forgiving, righteous, strong, confident, hopeful and perseveres with you through all situations. Enjoy the wonderful love that Jesus lavishes on us and love others in the same way.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 12 February 2021
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. – Psalm 147:4-5
 
Each of the trillions of stars that exists enjoys a name given directly by God. Amazing! Taking the time and interest to name every star shows the extraordinary depth of God’s love for creation. God who names each star, knows each and every human being by name. God knows us by name and God understands us. God understands us because God listens to our needs, feels our pain, delights in our dreams, and hears our hopes. God is large enough to know every minute detail of everything and everyone in all creation. God’s love for creation is amazing.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 11 February 2021
10 My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. – Psalm 7:10
 
Have mask will travel. To make sure I’m never mask-less I keep one in the glovebox (which has never held gloves). When I was in quarantine, I wore my mask whenever I left my den to move about the other areas of my home. Each time I put my mask on I think of Psalm 7:10 and remember that God is my shield. I’ll never wear a shield when I go out. A mask is my “mini-shield” Just as my mask is a mini-shield that protects my health, God is our great big mask who shields us from fear, anxiety, hatred and disease. Whenever we weary of wearing masks, we can pray Psalm 7:10 (“My shield is God Most High…) while putting on our masks.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 10 February 2021
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3
 
My days begin at 4:10 in the morning with a workout in my basement gym. While running or weightlifting I spend time thanking God for home, health, a workout, sleep, the morning and Jesus’ presence. My prayers then shift to the needs of family, friends, church family, and the world. By the time my workout is ending I am asking God for the things I need to get me through the day. Do you spend time laying requests before God? God wants us to request things for others and ourselves. Our requests show our reliance on God. Please lay your requests before God and expect God to answer!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 9 February 2021
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. – Psalm 51:7
 
Sunday’s snowfall, blanketed the world in beautiful, sparking crystals. As the snow covered over all the dirtiness and grime of daily life. I thought of God’s gift of forgiveness which covers the dirt and grime of our sins with Jesus’ cleansing love. As more snow falls today in Connecticut, please see, feel, and receive through the beautifully God-created crystals, the cleansing, renewing, beauty-restoring forgiveness of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 8 February 2021
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. – Psalm 130:5-6
 
On Saturday morning, my wife Lisa said, “I got my COVID results. They’re negative! What are your results?” “I didn’t get my results yet! How could you get yours first when I took my test a day ahead of you?!” My response was not my shining moment of Christian love. The frustration of waiting for my COVID result was out in the open. In that moment I felt God saying to me, “Dial it back Ricky and wait!” Waiting requires us to dial it back. When we dial it back and wait, we allow Jesus to calm our spirits, open our minds and reset our attitudes. Waiting, like exercise can be painful but good for you.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 6 February 2021
Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. – Psalm 86:4
 
Joy is a deep inner happiness that is not determined by external circumstances. Emotional happiness comes and goes. Joy comes and grows. Jesus is the source of our inner happiness. When we offer to God the very core of who we are, the Lord pours deep inner happiness into our hearts, our minds and our lives. The sustaining power of our deep inner happiness is owning the reality that we are God’s beloved children; God is always with us and God is working through everything for our wellbeing. Whenever anxiety, stress, frustration, fear start getting the better of us, we need to simply pray, “I’ve got the joy of Jesus down in my heart to stay!” Live into the joy that is ours to enjoy in every circumstance.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 5 February 20201
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. – Psalm 73:24
 
Do you remember your school guidance counselors? A good guidance counselor is a blessing! In these difficult times guidance counselors help children navigate family challenges, struggles with anxiety, and they literally put plans in place that help keep children safe and alive. We graduate from school, but we never stop needing guidance counselors. God loves us by blessing us with people of faith and integrity who are for us God’s guiding voice. These precious people are walking with us in these difficult days, and helping us to experience the tenacity, hope and joy of Jesus. Thank You, God for giving us great guidance counselors throughout our lives!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 4 February 2021
10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. – I Corinthians 1:10
 
In 1968 when the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, we combined the two names and became the United Methodist Church. The “united” of United Methodist Church reminds us that we are one in Jesus. Our church’s diversity is beautiful. At the same time, our unity in Jesus is our greatest strength. We are united in our commitment to worshiping, loving, serving and sharing Jesus. We have diverse ways of sharing with different people the great story of Jesus and His love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 3 February 2021
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? – Matthew 6:26
 
To keep the snow from getting too far ahead of me I shoveled the walkways and used the snowblower on the driveway four times. Three times on Monday and once on Tuesday. My final shoveling task is clearing ground for the birds and squirrels who enjoy breakfast at Hanse’s Café. God feeds them breakfast through me. God cares for animals and people through us. How does God work through you to care for others? How is God working through others to care for you? Shoveling snow for birds and squirrels fills me with gratitude for the care God gives me through people, pets and creation.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 2 February 2021
17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. – Psalm 74:17
 
Living in a section of God’s world that enjoys for distinct seasons fills me with joyous gratitude. I love the budding and blossoming of spring. The long warm days of summers lived under the cover of lush green trees is a blessing. New England’s beautiful autumn colors are extraordinary. And the cold snows of winter fill us with appreciation for warm shelter, hot drinks, and a world remade with trillions of God-created snow crystals. On this snowy day Jesus is calling us to a renewed appreciation for the many small blessings that assure us of God’s infinitely large love for each one of us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 1 February 2021
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. – 1 Timothy 5:4
 
God blessed me with four wonderful grandparents: Terri and Phil Mercaldi, and Bettie and Gil Hanse. Daily, because of them, I enjoy a treasure trove of memories made, wisdom given, lessons learned, and faith in Jesus nurtured by their love. Grandparents are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Whether they be grandparents in our family, or grandparents in our church or neighborhood family they are God’s precious Treasures. Please take time today to celebrate the grandparents in your life. Whether in this world or God’s kingdom, they continue to make us into the people Jesus wants us to be.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 30 January 2020
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
 
Life in this COVID infested and domestic terror-filled world can be exhausting. Add to these the stress of tight finances, strained relationships, burdensome responsibilities at school and work and the burden seem overwhelming. When we experience trying times, Jesus calls us to rest in Him. Jesus is here to shoulder our burdens and calm our spirits, so that our bodies may rest in God’s love. On frightening and tiring days when burdens weigh upon us verse three of “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree”, is the perfect prayer. “I’m wearied with my former toil, Here I shall set and rest awhile; under the shadow I will be, Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 29 January 2021
11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11
 
Love is not something we create. We receive love as we experience God’s love through Jesus. The more we receive God’s love, the better we understand it. God’s love is: Jesus listening to us. Jesus working to understand us. Jesus spending time with us. Jesus maintaining healthy boundaries with us. Jesus is always being available for us. Jesus accepting us as we are. Jesus showing us how us become the people God wants us to be. Because we experience Jesus’ love, we can offer this same love to others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 28 January 2021
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10
 
In the summer of 1989, Hilda Bowman the organist of Holland’s UMC in rural Raleigh, NC invited us to adopt a kitten. We chose the “runt” of the litter who’d been having a hard time and named her Chelsea. Chelsea could be a mean – drawing blood from our dog’s nose and scratching our children when they were babies. Still, we lovingly cared for her for eighteen years. Our precious cat taught me about God’s unconditional love. There are plenty of times when I am as tough to love as was Chelsea. We loved our cat with all our hearts because she was God’s precious creature entrusted to our care. God loves us not because of what we do but for who we are – God’s priceless treasures entrusted to Jesus’ care.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 27 January 2021
16 He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. – Psalm 147:16
 
Shoveling my driveway as the snow silently fell at the close of Tuesday, I marveled at its beauty. Coating the world in crystalline beauty is God’s way of reminding us that creation is a beautiful blessing. Standing in my backyard amid snow covered hemlocks, I lost myself in God’s beauty. With so much going in our lives and so many cares to attend, getting lost in a moment of snowy praise is a treat. God has wonderful surprises for us that sweep us up in moments of wondrous praise where every care falls away as we enjoy God’s moment.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 26 January 2021
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! – Psalm 148:7-9
 
Early autumn at Lyman Orchards (or any apple orchard) is wonderful. The deep green leaves and lush red apples of the orchard are a beautiful picture of Jesus’ love. Verse two of “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” celebrates the soul-restoring beauty of Jesus. “This beauty doth all things excel, By faith I know, but ne’er can tell The glory which I now can see, In Jesus Christ the apple tree.” Please picture a lush apple tree in your mind’s eye. Jesus’ unconditional love for us, and complete forgiveness of all our wrongs is more beautiful than the lushest apple trees. Praise God for Jesus Christ our Apple Tree.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 25 January 2021
Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste. – Song of Songs 2:3
 
“Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” is a song sung by Methodists in the 1700s, who saw the apple trees of the Bible as symbols for Jesus. On this winter Monday please hear God inviting us to enjoy the sheltering love of Jesus Christ our Apple Tree. “The tree of life, my soul hath seen, Laden with fruit, and always green, The trees of nature, fruitless be, Compared with Christ the apple tree.” Today taste the sweetness of Jesus’ love, which renews our joy, revives our strength, restores our peace and fills us with hope.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 23 January 2021
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” – Judges 6:12
 
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if an angel of the lord came to us saying, “The Lord is with you, you mighty woman/man of valor.”? When the angel visits Gideon, he is threshing wheat in a winepress while hiding from the Midianites, who are terrorizing Israel. Filled with fear, Gideon does not feel like a mighty man of valor. Whenever fear grips us, remember that valor is not something we create, but something we receive from Jesus. When we are fearful we should place our palms up, pray “Jesus fill me with Your courageous presence,” and receive the valor Jesus has for us.
 

Affectionately,

Ric
 
Friday 22 January 2021
6[The sun] rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. – Psalm 19:6
 
I love feeding birds and squirrels. I fill my bird feeder, place piles of birdseed and sunflower seed on the ground for God’s creatures to enjoy a wintertime buffet. For years I’ve wondered if birds’ feet get cold. Then I watched a blue jay perched in a dogwood branch by my kitchen window tuck a foot into its warm feather-covered chest. Through winter’s bitter cold, and the bitter cold of the pandemic Jesus calls us to bring God’s warmth to others through a kind word, a listening ear, words of gratitude, a smile and acts of compassion. When we share the Jesus’ love with others life is not so cold – even in winter.
 
Affectionately,
Pastor Ric
 
Thursday 21 January 2020
24 Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24
 
President Biden’s inauguration showcased Republicans and Democrats speaking with each other; people of all ages and races celebrating the peaceful transfer of presidential power; presidential words emphasizing unity, healing, and care for all; a poem and national anthem stirring the soul and moving us to tears; a respectful farewell to Vice President Pence. All these sacred events give us hope that God is safeguarding our democracy. May our hope in Jesus give us the grace and strength to treasure our precious democracy and work to protect it by seeing each other as people created in God’s image who have differing views and opinions, but a common love for government of, by and for the people.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Inauguration Day – Wednesday 20 January 2021
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
    or you brought forth the whole world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God. – Psalm 90:1-2
 
Before Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration on Saturday 4 March 1933, he wanted to spend time in worship and prayer. And he wanted the nation to pray with and for him. So, he crafted a service to be held at Washington D. C’s. Saint John’s Episcopal Church. This began the Inauguration Day worship tradition. FDR chose all the hymns for the service – including Isaac Watt’s song based on Psalm 90, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”. This song is a perfect inauguration day prayer for President Elect Biden, Vice President Elect Harris and our entire nation. Please join me in praying it throughout this sacred day.
 

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home!

 

Under the shadow of Thy throne, still may we dwell secure;

Sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defense is sure.
 

Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame,

From everlasting, Thou art God, to endless years the same.
 

A thousand ages, in Thy sight, are like an evening gone;

Short as the watch that ends the night, before the rising sun.
 

Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all who breathe away;

They fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
 

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come;

Be Thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.
 
Amen!
 

Affectionately,

Ric

 
Tuesday 19 January 2021
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.” – Psalm 122:6-7
 
The threat of violence and domestic terror attacks at tomorrow’s inauguration of President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris worries us. Never since the Civil War have soldiers been camping out at the Capitol in such numbers. Praying for the peace of Washington D.C. and all the United States is the most important ministry we can be doing between now and Wednesday night. Praying for peace brings God’s peace to our nation and to our hearts. When our hearts are at peace, we offer kindness to all and in so doing become peace makers. Together let’s pray fervently for the peace of Washington D.C. and America.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 18 January 2021 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The best way we can honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is by incorporating his message of racial justice and non-violence into our daily lives.
 
Let us allow this portion of Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to get into our souls and shape the way we live our lives.
 
“…I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 16 January 2021
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
 
God-inspired love is doing whatever it takes for the wellbeing of each other. In these days of anger, fear, hatred, racism, violence and worldwide deadly disease it is more important than ever that we love one another. Loving one another looks like checking in, listening, forgiving, seeking understanding, laughing together, wearing masks, honesty, accountability. Loving each other is a mix of acts that are pleasant and difficult. Loving means lifting each other up to Jesus who came down to us so we could rise to heights of life-giving love that comes from knowing God.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 15 January 2021
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1
 
On cold winter mornings I am deeply grateful to God for the wonderful blessing of a warm house to shelter me. The shelter of my warm car that carries me to church is a gift. A heavy blanket covering me at night is a blessing. I suspect you enjoy similar shelters. When we choose to give thanks for God’s gifts of warm shelters, our complaints about the cold diminish as our gratitude for God’s sheltering care grows. As we go through this winter day, the Lord will show us the many other Jesus’ sheltering care covers us. God’s sheltering love brings warmth to our bodies, comfort to hour minds and peace to our spirits.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 14 January 2021
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. – I John 3:16
 
Love is made known by words and actions. On the first Christmas the Word becomes flesh and lives among us. God the Word lays down His life by leaving the glories of heaven to live in a frail human body. During His thirty-three years in this world Jesus lays down His life by surrendering the privileges of being God in order to raise up all human beings. At the cross Jesus lays down His physical life to save the lives of every person who ever lived and ever would live. On the cross the Word says, “Father forgive them.” Through words and deeds Jesus shows us what love is. Jesus calls us by our words and deeds to show the world what love is – especially in these days.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 13 January 2021
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1a
 
People who make us feel special, who make us feel important, who make us feel like somebody are people who enjoy our company, spend time with us, listen to us, accept and appreciate us for who we are. These special people are beautiful pictures of God’s love in our lives. God loves us so deeply that God proudly calls us God’s children. Whenever we feel insignificant or unappreciated God fills our minds with thoughts of these special people to assure us that we are God’s treasured children. You are God’s precious child. You are someone very special.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 12 January 2021
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.  – 1 John 2:9
 
“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love” is the refrain to a wonderful song of faith. Living lives of faith is much more than telling people we are Christians. It is through our words and our deeds that we show  ourselves, each other, the world, and God that we are people who live our lives in the light of Jesus. Words or hatred and grievance, actions of selfishness and bigotry are opposed to Jesus’ way of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Do they know we are Christians by our love?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 11 January 2021
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
 
The stress, uncertainty, animosity, and injustice of these difficult days leaves us confused, uncertain, exhausted and wondering how to keep it all together. Thankfully when we feel like we don’t know what to do, what to say, how to keep it together we don’t have to worry. The Holy Spirit of Jesus gives us all the clarity, peace and strength we need to navigate difficult days. Every day the Holy Spirit fills us with the presence, love, peace and wisdom of Jesus. So, don’t worry about keeping it all together because the Holy Spirit is keeping it together for us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 9 January 2021
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in God there is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5
 
We are living in dark days. But darkness never prevails because God is light. In the darkness of COVID we see God’s light through new vaccines and renewed care for one another. In the darkness of racism, we see God’s light through an overdue commitment to ending the oppression of our Black sisters and brothers. In the darkness of the savage barbarism on display at the Capitol on Tuesday, God’s light shines through a renewed commitment to nurturing and safeguarding our democracy. God’s light shines in the darkness. And the darkness shall NEVER overcome God’s light.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 8 January 2021
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. – 1 John 1:3
 
I love church because it’s a wonderful fellowship nurtured by coffee hours, singing together, small groups, worship, mission work and friendship. Fellowship is central to our faith which is rooted in our relationships with God and each other. Christian fellowship is built on unconditional love, complete acceptance, unwavering care and loving accountability. The pandemic may be keeping our sanctuaries and fellowship halls empty, but nothing ends our fellowship with each other. This beautiful fellowship called church brings God’s light, love and goodness to the world – even in the darkest of times.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 7 January 2021
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
 
We don’t like waiting. Our least favorite places are waiting rooms. Traffic jams don’t make us come alive. Long checkout lines don’t make us happy. We assume that prayers that don’t bring fast change are unanswered. But there is no such thing as unanswered prayer. God answers our prayers with “Yes”, “No”, or “Wait”. While the resurrected Jesus enjoys dinner with some friends, He encourages them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. Waiting reminds us that God is at the center – not us. Waiting forces us to slow down. Waiting adjusts our agenda. Waiting opens us to new ideas, new perspectives, and new possibilities. It’s time to get waiting!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 6 January 2021 – Epiphany
11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11
 
“Remember the sixth!” was my Grampa Hanse’s Christmastime declaration. Grampa Hanse was born on Epiphany (6 January) 1912. Epiphany means “revealing”. How appropriate that the person who revealed Jesus’ love to me was born on Epiphany. When the Magi see the infant Jesus, they know God is revealing to them the Messiah. Who are the people through whom God works to reveal Jesus to you? These people live in this world and in God’s kingdom. These special saints reveal the love, kindness and presence of Jesus to us in wonderful ways. Because of them, Jesus has been born in our hearts. Remember the sixth!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 5 January 2021 – Twelfth Day of Christmas
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:1-2
 
Today is the twelfth day of Christmas. Between December 25th and today did you experience Christmas? Sometimes we experience Christmas through joyous worship services, brilliantly decorated Christmas trees, family feasts, living rooms crowded with presents and people. Sometimes Christmas comes to us in quiet, unexpected ways: walking under a starry sky; the silence of early morning; while quietly listening to Christmas music with a warm winter drink; in a moment of remembering Christmases past. Christmas comes on different days in different ways. Whatever the day, Christmas – Jesus filling our lives with God’s healing presence – always comes.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 4 January 2020
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. – Acts 1:3
 
What convincing proofs assure us that Jesus is alive? Two huge proofs that assure me Jesus is alive are: First, after 32 years, my wife Lisa still likes being with me. Second, the Church is still alive. There are many businesses that were run far better than the Church and they are long gone. But Jesus promises us that nothing shall destroy the Church. The small proofs are: Delicious food; wonderful times with family and friends; answered prayers; newborn babies; singing birds; springtime; snowfall; being in the right place at the right time; sunrises; healings; needs being supplied. What convincing proofs assure you that Jesus is alive?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 2 January 20201 – Ninth Day of Christmas
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:1-2
 
The Magi’s 900 mile from Iraq to Israel takes them to Jerusalem. The Wise Men assume that Israel’s new king will be in Jerusalem’s palace. But all they find is King Herod. Like the Magi we expect to find Jesus in certain places: churches, fellowship halls, beautiful places in nature. Since the beginning, Jesus has been showing up in places no one expects Him to be. Though they were wise, wealthy and well connected, the Magi were not reluctant to humble themselves and ask for directions. Whenever Jesus is not where we expect Him to be, it is good to ask God and others, “Where is Jesus?” By asking we open our hearts and lives to receiving directions that will take us to Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 1 January 2021 – Eighth Day of Christmas 
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem – Matthew 2:1
 
Angels give God’s message of Jesus’ birth to the Jewish shepherds living in their fields near Bethlehem. Saturn and Jupiter coming together in the Pisces section (western horizon) of the sky give God’s message of Jesus’ upcoming birth to gentile astronomers living in what is modern day Bagdad, Iraq. King David’s ancestor Jesus is a Jewish Savior who invites all humankind to enjoy His ability to offer all people a growing, healthy, and loving relationship with God. Jesus does whatever it takes to reveal God’s love to us. It is a new year, and Jesus is still using all sorts of messengers to reveal God’s love for us, God’s presence with us and God’s commitment to working all things for good.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 31 December 2020
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. – Luke 2:11
 
The Savior born to us is the One who makes all things new. Jesus comes into the world to free us from our old entanglements with depression, despair, wrongdoing, and death. Jesus comes as a newborn to show us that God is serious about making all things new. Jesus our Savior is born to bring new hope, new life, new strength, new peace, new joy and new life. God does a completely new thing when He comes into the world as a human being. As we close out 2020 and enter 2021, Jesus is blessing us with new strength, new tenacity, new hope and new joy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Wednesday 30 December 2020 – Sixth Day of Christmas
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. – Luke 2:10
 
God’s good news is not for a select few. God’s good news is for all people. God who created all people in God’s image, loves all people deeply. God longs for all people to know joy. Joy is deep inner happiness that is not shaped by external circumstances. Joy springs from the assurance that Jesus loves us, Jesus is with us, and Jesus who saves us is working all things together for our good. Jesus’ birth is good news brings us great joy as God’s presence in us heals our brokenness, repairs our loneliness and fills us with light.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 29 December 2020
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. – Luke 2:9
 
The unimportant shepherds never expected a visit from anyone. Not priests; not politicians; not fellow Israelites, and certainly not God’s mighty angels who are powerful enough to wipe out an entire army. So, the unexpected appearance of angels is terrifying. Unexpected events in our lives are scary because they are…well…unexpected! Whether good or bad, God works through the unexpected events in our lives to bring about blessings that strengthen our resolve, deepen our faith and broaden our love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 28 December 2020
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. – Luke 2:8
 
Raising perfect sheep for Temple sacrifices requires shepherds to live with their sheep. Spending their lives separated from the rest of the world, these shepherds are overlooked by everyone else. But the shepherds know that their work matters to God because the sheep they raise are used as gifts for God in the temple. There are many people in today’s world who are overlooked and undervalued. Do you ever feel overlooked and undervalued? Whatever anyone else thinks of you, please know that You Matter to God! Like the shepherds, you are God’s Beloved Treasure.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 26 December 2020 – Second Day of Christmas
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – Luke 2:7b
 
On Christmas Eve afternoon I became Santa’s helper by wrapping gifts Saint Nicholas would give to my children. Christmas has always been about wrapping. Mary wraps Jesus in bands of cloth to keep His body straight, warm, and safe. Mary wraps the greatest gift ever given to the world. Jesus is born on Christmas rescue us from everything we get wrapped up in: Anxiety, fear, racism, addiction, depression, disappointment, loneliness and insecurity. Christmas is so wonderful because the Baby Mary wraps in bands of cloth is our Savior who wraps us in God’s Love, God’s Freedom, God’s Joy, God’s Forgiveness, God’s Peace and God’s Everlasting Life.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Christmas Day 2020
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:8-12
 
God’s first invitation to Jesus’ birthday celebration comes to shepherds. Shepherds are nobodies to the world. But shepherds are priceless treasures to God. In God’s eyes, value is not based on what we do, how prestigious our job, how much we have or what others think of us. In God’s eyes value is based on who we are – human beings created in God’s image. Jesus’ birth and God’s invitation to shepherds proves that all people are precious to God. You are God’s priceless treasure. Christmas happens because God adores YOU!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Christmas Eve 24 December 2020
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. – Luke 2:6-7a
 
While Joseph and Mary are in Bethlehem for Caesar Augustus’s census, Christmas comes. Mary is not ready; Joseph hasn’t found a room. But Christmas comes. Whether we are prepared or not, Christmas comes. Christmas comes precisely because we are not ready. Jesus comes into the world because we are not ready to receive God’s love, enjoy God’s love or share God’s love. Christmas comes because God decides it is time for the world to be released from separation, isolation, and death. Christmas comes so we can enjoy God’s love, fellowship, and life. Are we ready for Christmas? Thankfully, it doesn’t matter. Whether we are ready or not, Christmas is coming!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 23 December 2020
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. – Luke 2:5
 
Joseph travels ninety miles south to his hometown of Bethlehem from Nazareth to register for the Roman taxation census.  Traveling with his pregnant fiancé Mary, Joseph never imagined he would marry a woman pregnant with someone else’s son. Life rarely works out according to our plans and expectations. And this year has been one huge, painful unexpected disappointment. God works through the unplanned inconveniences in our lives to bless us with the best of Christmas gifts. Christmas is all about God surprising us with unplanned Christmas gifts of Jesus’ love, forgiveness, peace, healing, and joy. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 22 December 2020
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  – John 1:1, 14
 
John’s Christmas story is wonderful. Jesus the enteral Word, Jesus the great Communicator becomes a human being and lives with us. Jesus takes His name “Word” very seriously. Jesus does whatever it takes to communicate with us – even becoming one of us. Jesus knows that the best way to get the message of God’s saving love into the minds, hearts and lives of people is by becoming one of us. The Word becomes flesh and lives among us because the Word – Jesus – loves US! Christmas is God’s declaration that we are His priceless treasures, and God will do anything and everything to get the Word of saving love through to us. God will even become one of us. Wow!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 21 December 2020
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8
 
There is a wonderful Christmas carol whose first verse proclaims “Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Star and angels gave the sign.” Love came down to us on the first Christmas. Love is coming down to us this Christmas. Through Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas carols, Christmas worship and Christmas quiet Jesus says to us, “I am love and I am coming down to you this Christmas because I love you.” While Christmas may be different this year, it is also very much the same – a celebration of Love who came down at Christmas.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 19 December 2020
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee – Luke 1:26
 
The Judeo-Christian Faith is not religious. Religion is about following man-made rules to make a distant God happy. Faith is all about enjoying a relationship with God who reaches down to us to make us whole. When elderly Elizabeth is six months pregnant with John the Baptist, God sends Gabriel to Nazareth to ask Mary’s permission to make her pregnant with Jesus. God always makes the first move. God always reaches out and reaches down. God is not religiously infatuated with rules. God is faithfully committed to being in a relationship with us. Christmas proves that God all about relationships. Christmas is God inviting us to rediscover our relationship with Jesus – God in human form.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 18 December 2020
23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” – John 7:23-24
 
Jesus is born at an unexpected time in an unexpected place and grows up to offer God’s love to people who never expected it. Through unexpected unconventionality Jesus shows us that we can receive God’s healing touch anywhere, any time. On the surface Jesus does not look like an effective healer. He’s born to a carpenter stepfather and a peasant mother and grows up in the unimportant town of Nazareth. But beneath the surface and beyond outward appearances, Jesus is God. And God is the ultimate Healer. This Christmas, Jesus has a gift of healing for you. Today place your palms up and feel the healing power of Jesus filling the deepest places of your heart, mind, body and spirit.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 17 December 2020
Then [Jesus] took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. – Luke 9:10b-11
 
Jesus takes the disciples away so that he can be alone with them. When the people find out where Jesus is, they surround Him. What is Jesus’ response to the uninvited crowds? A warm welcome! Warm welcomes are healing. On Christmas Day God welcomes the world into God’s life. When we welcome Jesus into our lives, we receive healing because welcomes always bring healing. Today Jesus is welcoming us into His life. Jesus is bringing us healing so that we can offer healing welcomes to precious people in need of the welcoming love of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 16 December 2020 

19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. – Luke 6:19

 
Presidents, celebrities, royalty – we love seeing them in person and we love touching them. My Great-Grammy Hanse went to see Billy Graham in the early sixties and touched him. It meant the world to her. Touching someone famous is exhilarating but not healing. As Jesus grows in fame, people want to touch him because healing power flows freely from him. That healing power was part of Jesus from the day he was born. Jesus comes into the world at Christmas so that God can be touched, and healing can be given. Please take time this Christmas to let Jesus touch your heart, mind and life and receive the healing Jesus has for you.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 15 December 2020
22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? – Jeremiah 8:22
 
These are days when we desperately need salve for our souls. The heartache continues. The stress grows. The depression deepens. In these difficult days we need Christmas. At Christmas God gives us Jesus, the Great Physician, who is a healing balm for our souls, minds, and lives. The first Christmas was quiet and could be easily overlooked. When we are hurting it can be tempting to overlook or avoid Christmas. But please do not. Christmas is more than presents, feasts and decorations. Christmas is welcoming the Great Physician Jesus into our lives. Christmas is a time for healing. The Great Physician is with us. Jesus is our balm who heals our hearts, minds, souls and lives.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 14 December 2020
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you – Isaiah 58:8
 
By feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless, welcoming all people, working for racial justice we are showing God to the world. God’s Light breaks forth like the dawn when Jesus is born to feed us with the bread of everlasting life, clothe us with the robe of His love, shelter us under His protecting love, welcome all people of all races into his presence (this is why Jesus is born in a stable), lift up the racially oppressed (Israelites were the oppressed minority). What can we do today to allow the warm light of Jesus to break forth in the lives of people who suffering the cold darkness of these difficult days?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 12 December 2020
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. – Malachi 4:2
 
How is Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness rising in our lives this Christmas? What places within us need the healing touch of our wonderful Sun of Righteousness. Please offer these places to Jesus who restores, renews, and rejuvenates us. Restoration, renewal and rejuvenation are what Christmas is all about! This year with COVID we need them more than ever! A wonderful way to receive Jesus healing touch at Christmas is by singing and praying verse three of Charles Wesley’s carol “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”.

 

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wing.

Mild He lays His glory by, born that we no more may die,

Born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 11 December 2020
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. – Isaiah 32:17
 
Jesus Christ is our righteousness. Being righteous means doing what one is designed to do. Hammers used to drive nails are righteous. Phones are righteous when they are used to communicate with others. We are righteous when we are enjoying our relationship with God. Jesus comes at Christmas to restore our relationship with God  A healthy relationship with God brings peace to our minds, hearts and lives because the fruit of intimacy with God is always peace. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 10 December 2020
12 Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. – Isaiah 26:12
 
The Lord establishes peace on the day the Holy Spirit makes Mary pregnant with Jesus. The Lord works with Mary to ensure that Peace is born on Christmas Day. Ever since that first Christmas, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has been working to establish peace in the world – one heart at a time. Peace is inner tranquility born of the assurance that Jesus is working all things together for good. Peace is a gift given us by Jesus. Please take time today and throughout the Christmas season to offer to Jesus those places in you and your life that need the tranquility Jesus our Prince of Peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 9 December 2020
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:7
 
Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace whose government is not limited by geography, politics, religion, race or culture.  Jesus is born to us at Christmas to free us from (as Charles Wesley writes) our fears and sins that fill us with consternation. When we are free from fear and sin, we are free for peace. Jesus, our Prince of Peace comes to us in a stable at Christmas. Unpretentious peace. Unexpected peace. Unrelenting peace. Peace – that beautiful inner tranquility and quiet that makes us – as President Roosevelt said – practitioners of peace. During this Christmas season, please receive the peace that Jesus has for you to enjoy. Then share God’s peace with others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 8 December 2020
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
 
What do we need from Jesus this Christmas?  Do need the gift of His wonderful counsel to guide us in decision we must make?  With everything going on in this year of COVID-19 we all need the gift of Jesus’ mighty strength. The loss of loved ones and empty chairs at our Christmas tables leaves us experiencing deep loneliness. We need the healing companionship of Jesus our Everlasting Father. The anxiety we feel from the pandemic, racial injustice and life’s uncertainties leaves us needing Jesus our Prince of Peace to fill us with God’s peace. These are the gifts we most need this Christmas. And these are the gifts Jesus is giving us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 7 December 2020
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. – Isaiah 11:1
 
Branch in Hebrew is “Netzer”. It is from Netzer that the town Nazareth gets its name. Jesus the Branch grows up in the town of Nazareth. Jesus is the Righteous Ranch. The Apostle Paul assures us that when we place our trust in Jesus, we are grafted into the Olive tree that is Israel. The One who is The Branch makes us branches in His tree of life. This Christmastime when you put up your Christmas Tree, please take some time to remember that Jesus is the shoot who becomes The Branch who grafts us into the Tree of Life. Whenever we feel disappointed, discouraged or disheartened, we can remember that we are one with Jesus the Branch who makes all things well.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 5 December 2020
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. – Isaiah 11:6
 
Predators lying down with prey and not eating them. What a perfect picture of supernatural peace. Isaiah gives us a picture of a peace that transcends the natural order of life in this world. Only God gives such extraordinary peace. The little child who leads this Peace Movement is Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace who is born at Christmas. What is causing consternation, agitation and anxiety in your life? Whatever it is, please offer it to Jesus who is already at work restoring your peace. As Jesus restores our peace, we become Christ’s peace for others. What a beautiful Christmas gift!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 4 December 2020

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

When we try God’s patience, God does not lose His temper. God responds with love. God invites faithless and selfish King Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses. But God decides to give one anyway. It comes many years later. The sign of God’s commitment to us, the sign of God’s love for us, the sign of God’s commitment to rescuing and restoring us comes through a virgin named Mary, who gives birth to God the Son and gives him the name Immanuel. Immanuel means “God with us”. During Christmastime please look for the signs God gives you to assure you that Jesus is with you and you are God’s treasure.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 3 December 2020
13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? – Isaiah 7:13
 
King Ahaz of Judah is staring at the possibility of invasion from Israel’s evil King Pekah who aligned himself with Aram’s King Rezin when God says to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign…” But Ahaz who did not love the Lord refuses to ask for a sign of assurance that God will care for him. It is at this point that the great prophet Isaiah says, “Will you try the patience of my God…?” COVID-19 and racism try our patience. But for far longer I have tried God’s patience. Is the same true for you? But God still loves us. God is infinitely patient with. God’s inexhaustible patience is a wonderful Christmas gift!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Tuesday 1 December 2020
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. – Isaiah 60:1
 
“Rise and shine!” This Isaiah-inspired declaration is familiar to all of us. Rise and shine! Jesus who comes at Christmas gives us gifts of new beginnings, new opportunities, and new closeness with God and each other. Rise and shine! Jesus’ birth shows us that God’s presence is no longer limited to a temple in Jerusalem. Rise and shine! Jesus is with us and within us. Rise and shine! The light of God’s presence comes into the world at Christmas. Like a child who awakes on Christmas morning filled with joyous anticipation…Rise and shine!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 30 November 2020
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. – Isaiah 11:1
 
In 586 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia invades Jerusalem, destroys the temple of the Lord and forces God’s people to live in Babylon. Though times are tough, Isaiah calls the people to keep their hope. One day God will raise up a shoot from the stump of Jerusalem. The shoot is Jesus. Jesus comes from the town of Nazareth which means “the branch”. Christmas is so wonderful because in the midst of our trying times God sends us a shoot who is the Branch to renew our hope. This Christmastime please be assured that Jesus the Branch is restoring our hope. All will be well.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Saturday 28 November 2020
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe – Hebrews 12:28
 
Nations are shaken by economic recessions, pandemics, and political turmoil. Lands are shaken by floods, droughts, quakes, and storms. People are shaken by famine, hunger, unemployment, racism, and loneliness. But the Kingdom of God cannot be shaken. Nothing shakes God’s kingdom. God’s unshakeable kingdom is our future home. And, God’s unshakeable kingdom is also here on earth. When we commit to trusting Jesus and enjoying God’s love, God’s kingdom lives in our hearts and minds, filling us with the unshakable peace, strength, hope and joy of Jesus. Because God’s unshakeable kingdom lives in us, we are making our way through the raging storms of life.
 

Affectionately,

Ric

 
Friday 27 November 2020
Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. – Psalm 100:4
 
How was your Thanksgiving? In some ways Thanksgiving was different for all of us. Thanksgiving Eve worship happened on YouTube. I ate pie in my living room instead of Fellowship Hall. Thanksgiving Day was all about cooking. But then we donned our masks and delivered meals to our children’s homes. Thanksgiving Day was different. And Thanksgiving was wonderful because at its core, Thanksgiving is spending the day celebrating the blessings God gives us – and God has blessed us abundantly! How was your Thanksgiving?
 
Affectionately
Ric
 
Thanksgiving Day 2020
34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. – I Chronicles 16:34
 
After a long and difficult journey, the Ark of God’s Covenant with Israel, arrives in Jerusalem. King David places the Ark in a special tent and instructs Asaph (his Director of Praise and Worship) to lead the nation in giving thanks to God. After a long and difficult journey through 2020, we have arrived at Thanksgiving. Throughout the journey’s difficulties, heartbreaks and disappointments we have experienced God’s eternal, enduring love which gave us courage, grace and tenacity. God’s enduring love is giving us the courage, grace and tenacity we need to continue our journey to days of justice, peace and healing. So, give thanks to the Lord, for God’s goodness and love which, unlike the pandemic, endures forever!
 
Thanksgiving Blessings,
Ric 
 
Thanksgiving Eve 25 November 2020
13 Along with their fellowship offering of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of bread made with yeast. – Leviticus 7:13
 
The Israelite’s thanksgiving offerings to God always involved food. Thanksgiving is different for all of us this year. But food is still part of the day. Whether we are preparing a thanksgiving feast, or sitting down to a simple meal, food is at the center of Thanksgiving. Whatever you’ll be eating tomorrow, please make thanksgiving to God the center of your meal preparations. And with every delicious bite, give thanks to God for the enjoyment of eating. This Thanksgiving is marked by loss. And this Thanksgiving is filled with blessings – delicious food, wonderful memories, the promise that we will again be with friends and family whom we treasure, and the assurance that God our maker is supplying our needs.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 24 November 2020
19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. – Jeremiah 30:19
 
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving song? “Now Thank We All Our God”? “Come Ye Thankful People Come”? “We Gather Together”? My favorite, “Thanks to God for My Redeemer” was introduced to me by my dear friend Jane Wood. This year I’ve spent time reflecting on verse two: “Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered, thanks for what Thou dost deny! Thanks for storms that I have weathered, thanks for all Thou dost supply! Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure, thanks for comfort and despair! Thanks for grace that none can measure, thanks for love beyond compare!” Please join me in making this your Thanksgiving prayer. Whatever Thanksgiving 2020 looks like, always remember that God gives us songs of Thanksgiving!
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Monday 23 November 2020
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
 
COVID-19 has ruined many Thanksgiving plans. Empty seats at our Thanksgiving tables. Thanksgiving Eve at home instead of at Church in a Fellowship Hall filled with pies and warm cider. So much loss. But Jesus looks with compassion upon our ruins, gathers us in His arms and gives us the ability to recognize and celebrate the small but significant blessings we take for granted when life is normal. As we travel to Thanksgiving, Jesus will show us the beauty of small but significant blessings that, have the power to make our deserts like Eden and fill our hearts with Thanksgiving.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 21 November 2020
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. – Luke 4:1-2
 
Since March we’ve been in the COVID-19 desert. Deserts can be places where the devil dwells. During desert periods of life, temptations we generally do not struggle with seem to get the better of us. Jesus, who was tempted while in the desert, knows what we’re going through. Jesus is with us during this desert time when temptations threaten to lead us astray. Jesus is giving us the strength and tenacity we need. We shall not succumb to temptations to blame others if we get infected, give into our anger or heartache over a seemingly lost Thanksgiving or let despair overwhelm us. The temptations are strong, but Jesus is stronger!
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Friday 20 November 2020
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
 
Zion (the city of Jerusalem) was conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and then by the Romans. During both invasions the Lord’s temple was destroyed, and people endured terrible hardships. We have been invaded by COVID-19. And the hardships of sickness, sadness, depression, anxiety, unemployment, debt, and loneliness seem to be surrounding us. During these difficult days please remember that Jesus looks upon us with compassion. And while we may not feel it, even now, Jesus is restoring our lives so that we will once again experience a time of thanksgiving.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Thursday 19 November 2020
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2
 
Safe drivers are watchful drivers. Safely navigating the dangers of everyday life in a world filled with COVID-19, racial injustice, job insecurity, and the loneliness of social distancing requires watchfulness. The best way I know for us to be watchful is by talking with Jesus, listening to our intuition,  sharing our feelings with God and people we trust, and staying aware of the mental, spiritual and physical warning signs that tell us something is not right in our lives. The more we talk watchful we are, the better we will be at safely navigating life in these strange times.
 

Affectionately,

Ric

 
Wednesday 18 November 2020
12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:12
 
When we love one another, God lives in us, so God looks like us. Or, more accurately we look like God. When we love one another we show each other what God looks like. As Jesus lives His life through us, He makes it possible for us to love each other by doing whatever needs to be done for the wellbeing of each other.  Sometimes love looks like unconditional acceptance. Sometimes love looks like holding each other accountable. Sometimes love looks like giving comfort and support. Always God’s love looks like Jesus. When we love one another God’s love is made complete in us and makes us look like Jesus. While our days are difficult, the opportunities for looking like our loving God are bountiful!
 

Affectionately,

Ric

 
Tuesday 17 November 2020
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:16
 
Doing everything in the name of Jesus means offering everything we do to Jesus. When I am not sure whether to think, say or do something, I ask myself, “Can I offer this to Jesus?” If I can offer it to Jesus, then I know I can do it in Jesus’ name. Asking myself this accountability question keeps me from doing, thinking and saying what I shouldn’t. Asking myself “Can I offer this to Jesus” also spurs me on to think, say and do what is good and beautiful. Thinking, saying and doing what is good and beautiful also involves turning from what is wrong, and receiving Jesus in new ways.  When we do everything in Jesus’ name we enjoy God’s love and share the joy of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 16 November 2020
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10
 
God’s love for us does not depend on us loving Him. Whether we love God or not, God loves us deeply, strongly, faithfully – forever. It is God’s faithful and consistent love for us that keeps the sun shining, the seasons changing and the world turning. God loves us with words – telling us daily through the Bible, “I love you.”  God loves us with people who love us. God loves us with delicious food. God loves us with beautiful music. The more I come to understand how God loves us first and always, the more I want us to love God in return and show God’s love to all people. Please take some time today to remember that God loves you first, faithfully, and forever!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 14 November 2020  
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – Colossians 3:16
 
When it comes to our physical health, we are what we eat. When it comes to our spiritual health, we are what we know. The best way Jesus knew to withstand temptation, oppose wrong, and offer love was by reciting Bible passages He memorized. What passages do you have memorized? Whether is one, none, or a bunch plan on adding a new Bible passage to your memory. Try a verse from Psalm 121, or Psalm 126:1-3, or Philippians 4:6-7. Then take some time to recite your favorite hymn or faith song. Scriptures and songs of faith shape our thoughts, attitudes and actions.  Going through each day saying Scriptures and songs from memory makes life much better! “What a friend we have in Jesus!”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 13 November 2020
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15
 
As Christians we want Jesus to be the center of our hearts. When Jesus lives within our hearts, He fills us with His peace. As Christ’s peace fills more and more space in our hearts, His peace crowds out our fears and insecurities. Today please invite the peace of Jesus to not simply live in your heart but to rule your heart. Claim the reality that Christ’s peace fills your heart and fills your life with confidence, courage and peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Thursday 12 November 2020
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:14
 
Putting on clothing is second nature to us. When we commit to trusting Jesus and enjoying His love for us, then putting on God’s unconditional love is second nature to us. Putting on love means clothing ourselves with a commitment to living, working, speaking and praying in such a way that we are doing whatever it takes for the wellbeing of others. Sometimes putting on love is easy. Sometimes it is difficult to clothe ourselves in love. Clothing ourselves in Jesus’ love is as important as getting dressed before we go out. What will putting on the love of Jesus look like for you today?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 11 November 2020
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13
 
Forgiveness is the oil of relationships. Forgiveness is essential because along with life’s guarantees of taxes and death comes the guarantee that we will disappoint each other. The disappointment fractures relationships. Forgiveness brings healing. Forgiveness brings freedom. Forgiveness takes time and work. The center of our faith is the cross. And the cross is God crying out, “I forgive you!” 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 10 November 2020
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12
 
Sunday clothes for me in 1974 included my green leisure suit, multi-color green flecked nylon wide collar shirt and saddle shoes. If I wore something like this to church today, people would think I was late for Halloween. While physical clothing styles change over time, spiritual clothing styles stay the same. As followers of Jesus we wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Which of these is your favorite spiritual clothing style? Which one do you need to put on more often? Feel free to mix and match! 
 
Affectionately,
Ric

 

Monday 9 November 2020

I am going to bring it recovery and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. – Isaiah 33:6
 
Whether the election announcement filled you with joy or disappointment, I believe we can all agree that our nation is in need of God’s healing love. The best way I know to bring healing to our land is by looking at each other not as adversaries but as precious people created in God’s image. When we see Jesus in each other we offer kindness, we listen, we lend a helping hand, we smile, and our conversations are seasoned with respect. God is inviting us to bring healing to our nation by reaching out to one another with the unconditional love of Jesus. May we all receive the healing we need and pass that healing love on to others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 7 November 2020
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:4
 
Every morning Jesus comes to us, inviting us to love, trust and follow Him. Every morning fills us His faith, strength, grace, forgiveness, peace and joy. Everywhere we go Jesus goes with us. And whatever we face today, Jesus faces it with us. We are not alone. Jesus never leaves us alone. Jesus is with us each moment of everyday. And some day Jesus will bring us safely to His Home in the Kingdom of Heaven. What a wonderful life!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 6 November 2020
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:3
 
As a child, whenever I was scared, I would jump into bed and hide under my blanket where I felt safe, secure and hidden from harm.  As grownups we know that hiding under blankets will not keep us safe from the challenges, trials and losses of life. But there is a hiding place for us that is better than the coziest blanket. Jesus.  Whenever life’s challenges, trials and losses threaten to overwhelm us, we can hide in Jesus. We can hide in Christ’s strength, love, safety and provision.  When we hide in Jesus, God gives us the courage to face all that confronts us in life with the strength that comes from knowing that in Jesus we are safe.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 5 November 2020
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14
 
Waiting is hard work. Waiting at the Motor Vehicle Department or for an exam to begin fills us with anxiety. Waiting on a checkout line makes us impatient. Waiting in a traffic jam gets us frustrated. Waiting for a first responder fills us with angst. Waiting for the election results is all of these. Waiting is exhausting. But waiting for God is different. Waiting for God is not waiting for God to show up. Waiting for God is spending time talking to God in prayer, listening to God through Scriptures and songs. Waiting for God is focusing our thoughts on Jesus who renews our courage, restores our strength and resets our perspective. In these difficult days let’s memorize Psalm 27:14 and make it our prayer.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 4 November 2020
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. – Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)
 
How are you feeling? Are you anxious or at peace? Afraid or confident? Stressed or calm? Many of us are a combination of both. All of us are tired. During this wild 2020 ride, the most important thing we can do is pray. Talking to God transforms our worries into prayers. Talking to God opens us to the calming presence of Jesus who soothes our spirts. Talking to God keeps us connected to Jesus who is our Peace. When Jesus fills us with His presence, He crowds out our anxiety with His peace; Jesus crowds out our fears with His confidence; Jesus crowds out our stress with His calm.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 3 November 2020
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. – Psalm 127:1
 
One of the ways we work to be faithful God and the democracy in which we are blessed to live is by voting. Voting for those whom we believe to be people of integrity who embody God’s commitment to unity, justice, care and provision is how we work with God to build a nation that is committed to all that is right, good, just and beautiful. :Lord Jesus, on this Election Day 2020, build within us a commitment to loving all, serving all, caring for all, and doing everything we can to make this nation a beacon of Your loving care. Amen.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 2 November 2020
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5
 

It is hard to see clearly in the dark. It is difficult to navigate safely in the dark. Darkness can be lonely, frightening, and downright depressing. Darkness creates fear, misunderstanding and suspicion. Darkness fosters a sense of insecurity.  But darkness is never stronger than light. Light always dispels darkness. Jesus Christ is light. And Jesus our Light is with us. Jesus our Light is shining in our lives, dispelling the darkness, and showing us who to be, what to do, and where to go.  Jesus our Light gives us peace, understanding, wisdom, confidence and security. Jesus our light overcomes all darkness. Always.

 

Affectionately,

Ric
 
Saturday 31 October 2020
So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. – Galatians 2:16b
 
Happy Halloween! Happy Reformation Day too! On 31 October 1517, the Catholic priest Martin Luther
nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany and started what became the Protestant Reformation. Reformation Day celebrates the truth that God’s saving love is not a reward we earn, but a gift we receive and enjoy through faith in Jesus. In healthy relationships we do good things not to earn someone’s love but because we know they already love us. God loves us deeply. There is nothing we can do that will make God love us less. This is why Jesus dies for us. Please celebrate Reformation Day by enjoying God’s love and sharing the love of Jesus with others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 30 October 2020
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  – Ecclesiastes 4:9
 
Our one God is three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This means God experiences perfect fellowship. Because we are created God’s image we are designed to live in fellowship with God and each other. Two are always better than one. Today give thanks to God for friends and treasured family members through whom you experience God’s loving fellowship. Our friends and treasured family members are God’s way of assuring us that two are always better than one.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 29 October 2020
13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. – 1 Chronicles 10:13-14a
 
Too impatient to wait upon the Lord for guidance and discernment, Israel’s King Saul consults a medium – something the Lord expressly forbids of His people because God does not want us making ourselves vulnerable to forces that do not have our wellbeing at heart. When we go through trying times it is tempting to look for comfort and answers in places that are unhealthy. Sometimes it takes hard work to trust in God; especially when God seems silent and feels far way. During these difficult times Jesus calls us to trust that God is with us, God is guiding us, and God who loves us, will show us the best way to navigate life when times are tough.  
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 28 October 2020
24 His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah. – Chronicles 7:24
 
Ephraim’s daughter Sheerah was a builder. She built two towns in Israel. Builders are people with vision, courage, tenacity and faith. What has God called you to build? A marriage, a career, a family, a friendship, a legacy? We are all builders. Being a builder is what it means to be created in the image of God – the original Builder. Is what we are building something that shows the love of Jesus? Some of our building projects are large, some are small. All of them are significant, and each requires faith in Jesus who is the Cornerstone upon whom we are invited to build everything. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 27 October 2020
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. – Psalm 138:6-7
 
Our days are often a mix of challenges and joys, stresses and happiness. As the pandemic drags on, it feels like we are on the receiving end of way too much stress. Though the stresses of COVID-19, racial injustice, the election are heavy burdens to bear, Jesus is preserving our lives by keeping our faith strong, making our joy tenacious, and enabling us to safely navigate these difficult days in ways that bring God’s beauty and joy to others. Jesus looks kindly upon us and assures us that God’s large, strong, and saving love is bringing us through the storm.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 26 October 2020
When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.  – Psalm 138:3
 
When my son was very young, we prayed three closing prayers together – a prayer for good dreams, a prayer for good thoughts, and a prayer for God’s protection. These originated after he had some nightmares and some scary thoughts that made him feel unsafe in the dark of night. The same happens to us grownups. But prayer is powerful. When we bring our fears and anxieties to Jesus, He hears us and fills us with grace and peace. Jesus makes us courageous by assuring us that He is stronger and greater than any fear and He is with us, keeping us safe forever.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 23 October 2020
17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Luke 18:17
 
Childlikeness is a wonderful combination of wonder and dependency. Children accept that they are dependent upon grownups to supply their needs, keep them safe, and love them. Children fill with wonder when opening presents, enjoying God’s creation, and eating yummy foods. For us grownups, childlikeness is accepting that we are dependent upon Jesus to supply our needs, keep us safe, and love us. Being childlike is also being filled with wonder that leads us to appreciate and enjoy Jesus’ love for us, God’s beautiful world and the satisfying life Jesus gives us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 22 September 2020
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. – Psalm 89:11
 
In her song, “The Simple Things”, jazz artist Eliane Elias sings “The night, the breeze, the light, the trees, the stars that shine, the love we find in simple things…” Life’s most enjoyable blessings are not things we buy or own. Life’s best blessings are free and should be available to all. When we are preoccupied with the need to own things, we keep ourselves from fully enjoying the simple gifts that God gives us every day. While mowing my lawn yesterday I was overcome with the beauty of the maple trees in my neighbors’ yards.  Please take time to enjoy God’s beautiful autumn creation. As Eliane sings, “The simplest things are the wonderful things in life…”
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Wednesday 21 October 2020
See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. – Colossians 2:8
 
Promises of fulfillment, and purpose are offered to us every day by astrologers, electronics stores, online shopping sites, health spas, vacation getaways, virility medications and more. We are swimming in opportunities that promise to bring us a sense of purpose and fulfillment. But none of them ever deliver. The only one who can bring us a sense of lasting fulfilment and offer permanent purpose to our lives is Jesus. Jesus satisfies our deepest desires. Jesus meets our largest needs. Jesus is meaning. Jesus is purpose. Jesus is fulfillment. Breathe in deeply and invite Jesus to fill you with His fulfilling presence, love and joy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 20 October 2020
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. – Job 12:7-8
 
George Washington Carver is a man after my heart! Like me he got up at 4:00 a.m. to spend time with God. Usually he’d take a walk in the woods. An agricultural scientist, Mr. Carver discovered the importance of crop rotation to keep farm soil from being depleted of its nutrients. One of his favorite verses was Job 12:7-8. Because of his deep listening to God through nature, Mr. Carver discovered over 300 uses for peanuts. The best way I know to fall in love with nature and grow our love for Jesus, is by taking Mr. Carver’s favorite verses to heart. Today, please spend some time asking God to show you something special through nature. God will answer your prayer and you will experience renewed joy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 19 October 2020
rooted and built up in [Christ], strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – Colossians 2:7
 
One of the best ways to deepen our faith in Jesus and more fully enjoy God’s love during our difficult days is to be thankful. There is so much for which to be thankful: Family and friends who love us just the way we are; a job; good health; a warm home; a wonderful church family; delicious food; a Savior who loves us unconditionally and promises to be with us always. Being thankful for these great gifts enables us to navigate the worst of times. And knowing that Jesus is with us to bring us safely through these terrible times fills me with an overflowing spirit of thankfulness!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 17 October 2020
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2
 
According to Webster’s Dictionary the definition if devote is “to commit by a solemn act”. God calls us to be committed to praying, being watchful and being thankful. When we commit to growing a life of prayer, watchfulness, and thankfulness we more fully enjoy God’s love. Commit to talking to God by setting aside specific times for prayer. Shower time, drive time and exercise time are my favorite prayer times. Commit to being watchful by examining how we live.  And when we are intentional in thankfulness by choosing to give thanks at least three times a day, we will more fully enjoy God.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 16 October 2020
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, – Colossians 2:6
 
Do you remember the day you decided to place your trust in Jesus? Or are you someone who has loved Jesus for as long as you can remember? Whether we can point to a specific day of decision for Christ or not, what matters most is our current commitment to continuing our relationship with Jesus. Continuing to dedicate our lives to following Jesus means choosing to love, trust and enjoy Jesus with our minds and our lives. Continuing to enjoy a good relationship with Jesus takes commitment, communication, and courage. These are easy to find as we more fully enjoy Jesus’ commitment to us, communication with us, and courage for us.   
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 15 October 2020
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27
 
How a caterpillar becomes a butterfly is a mystery. But the results of the transformation are beautiful. When we accept God’s invitation to love, trust and follow Jesus, He lives His life through us, making us new creations. How this happens is a great mystery. But the results are beautiful. Living His life through us, Jesus strengthens the good in us and remakes everything else that is less than good. Have you accepted God’s invitation to love, trust and follow Jesus? Then Jesus is living in you and through you. Jesus is making you and your life beautiful. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 14 October 2020
22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. – Colossians 1:22-23
 
Reconciliation ends hostilities, repairs damaged relationships and brings new beginnings. Jesus’ death reconciles us to God. The cross is the bridge that reconnects us to God. On the surface the cross looks like death and endings. In reality, the cross is life and new beginnings. We’ve experienced many painful, heartbreaking endings this year. When all we can see are endings, Jesus calls us to look to the cross, receive healing and discover new beginnings.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 13 October 2020
This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” – Zechariah 13:9
 
Trials and difficulties in our lives are never pointless. When we experience tough times, God works through our difficulties to purify our thoughts and motives, deepen our dependence on Jesus, and strengthen our Faith. God never wastes a hurt. Jesus works through our pain, our trials, our disappointments and our heartbreaks to bring about something good. God is redeeming our trials. The best reminder for us that God can bring good out of bad is the cross. Jesus takes an instrument of hatred, pain and death and transforms it into an instrument of forgiveness, reunion and life. God never wastes a hurt.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 8 October 2020
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. – Colossians 1:15
 
Jesus comes into the world to show us who God is, what God is like, and how God lives. Through His birth, Jesus shows us that God does whatever it takes to spend time with His people. Through His life, Jesus assures us that God is not impressed with prestige or power but loves ordinary people. Through the cross, Jesus shows us that not even the deadliest hatred can kill God’s love for us. Through Easter, Jesus offers everlasting life to all creation. This is the Jesus who loves us, lives in us and lives for us. This Jesus is leading us through every day of our lives.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
Note: The Daily Faith Builder will resume on Monday 12 October.
 
Wednesday 7 October 2020
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
 
Enjoying delicious food is a wonderful way to taste God’s love. Sharing a meal with someone special makes good food taste even better. After Easter, Jesus spends forty days enjoying meals with them His close friends and followers. Over tasty food Jesus assures His disciples that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit. Food nourishes our bodies and feeds our souls. Enjoying delicious meals with people we love gives us the encouragement we need to navigate these difficult and anxious days. Unfortunately, we cannot be with many people with whom we’d love to share a meal. But maybe there are a few people who are being cautious who we could safely eat with so that we will taste the goodness of companionship.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 6 October 2020
18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. – Psalm 119:18
 
Each morning I feed the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. Recently my wildlife diner under the hemlocks and rhododendrons gained a rabbit. At first the rabbit would flee when I came near. During the months it has come to trust that I am a friendly food service. In the silence of my early morning wildlife feedings I experience God’s beauty, creativity, and care as I connect with the creation God’s loves. Through sights of God’s creatures and sounds of their trusting enjoyment of seed God fills me with joy that carries me through the day. In our morning silence, Jesus has sights, sounds, smells and tastes for us that bring us joyous strength for the day.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 5 October 2020
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, – Colossians 1:11
 
Do you like Monday’s? Do you see Monday as the beginning of a new week filled with opportunities and adventures? Or do you view Monday as the beginning of a week filled with uncertainties, difficulties and stress? For those who don’t like Mondays please know that God is calming your anxiety, filling you with Holy Spirit powered endurance, and giving you Jesus-inspired patience and hope. Mondays are filled with God’s loving joy, which is the source of our strength for Mondays and the following days.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 3 October 2020
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. – Psalm 62:1
 
Please don’t spend all of Saturday doing chores. Be sure to take some time to relax and rest in God’s love. When we rest in God, the Lord refreshes our mind as well as our body. When we slow down and relax, God also restores our souls. God’s restoration gives our minds renewed sharpness and our bodies renewed strength. Do the Saturday chores. But don’t work all day. Please take time to rest in Jesus so that today is good and restful day.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 2 October 2020
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. Without telling them about the dream, Nebuchadnezzar insists that his wise men tell him what the dream means. Furious that no one is wise enough to reveal his dream and its meaning, Nebuchadnezzar orders the execution the wise men. Rather than panicking, Daniel prays. During the night God reveals the king’s dream to Daniel, who reveals the dream’s meaning to the king. When the impossible is confronts us do not panic. Pray! Pray to Jesus who did the impossible when He rose from the dead. Jesus who lives in us give us everything we need to do the impossible.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
 
Thursday 1 October 2020
10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” – Zechariah 4:10
 
While overseeing the construction of God’s Temple in the 530s B.C. Zerubbabel is inundated with complaints of its small size. Zechariah the priest invites God’s people to see small as beautiful. As huge problems, challenges, fears, and stresses confront us, it is easy to lose sight of the small gifts that bring beauty to life such as smiles, encouraging words, thoughtful deeds. We may not be able to fix the whole world but by God’s grace we can make our small corner beautiful for ourselves and others as we enjoy and share these small but beautiful gifts of smiles, encouraging words, and thoughtful deeds. Small is beautiful.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 30 September 2020
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. – Philippians 3:15-16
 
The World According to Mister Rogers, is a book of small sayings packed with deep meaning. On page 34 Fred Rogers writes, “All life events are formative. All contribute to what we become, year by year, as we go on growing. As my friend the poet Kenneth Koch once said, ‘You aren’t just the age you are. You are all the ages you ever have been!’” God works through all our experiences to mature us in wisdom, faith, joy and beauty and love for others. God works through everything we experience in life to make us into the people God wants us to be. We are all the ages we’ve ever been! How wonderful!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 29 September 2020
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  – John 20:21-22
 
God designed into us a built-in stress reliever – breathing through our noses. In 1998 Doctors Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro and Ferid Murad won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that breathing in through the nose creates nitric oxide which reduces stress, decreases blood pressure, increases blood flow to all of our organs. When Jesus appears to His dear friends on the evening of the first Easter, they are stressed. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” Jesus says and then breathes on them. Breathe in through your nose and feel the Holy Spirit filling you as God’s gift of nitric oxide (which comes to through nasal breathing) relieves your stress.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 28 September 2020
35 He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs. – Psalm 107:35
 
Brown grass, wilted rhododendrons, drooping flowers and soil that is parched and powdery are signs of the severe drought in Connecticut. Sometimes we feel as parched as drought-stricken land. During these spiritual dry spells God feels far away, our spirits are downcast, and joyous laughter is a memory. While we may not feel God’s presence during these spiritual dry spells, Jesus is with us. Jesus is close to us, holding us, loving us and reviving us with His living water of saving love, even though we don’t feel Him. Take heart, Jesus is with you. Your drought is ending.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 26 September 2020

1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

– Hebrews 1:1-2
 
Jesus is always speaking with us. Maltbie Babcock celebrates this wonderful reality by declaring, “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.” God speaks to us everywhere and all the time. Through singing birds, good music, people who love us, the wind in the trees, the Bible, laughter and silence, Jesus is speaking to us. Not a moment goes by in our lives when Jesus is not speaking with us. In the rustling grass we hear Jesus pass. Jesus speaks to us Everywhere!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 25 September 2020
1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2 “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. – Numbers 1:1-2
 
“Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will amaze you what the Lord has done,” declares the old hymn. In these challenging times it can be easy to lose sight of the good gifts God gives us. Please take some time to take a census of your blessings. What are seven blessings you enjoy? Over the next seven hours give thanks to God for each of the seven. Seven is a sacred number that celebrates completeness. God gives us all the blessings we need, and many more. And God works through us so we can bless others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 24 September 2020
10 My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. – Psalm 7:10
 
Shields are on our minds a lot these days. These shields that are part of our new daily routine include face masks, face shields, social distancing, virtual meetings and window visits. Our greatest shield is Jesus. Jesus is our shield and defender who protects our hearts from despair, our minds from anxiety, our spirits from loneliness and our bodies from disease. Each time we pack or put on our face mask, may we remember that Jesus our Shield is protecting us in the ways that matter most as Jesus protects our joy, our peace, our relationships and our health.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 23 September 2020
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives – Colossians 1:9
 
One of the great privileges I enjoy is praying for you. You are in my prayers, and I think about you throughout the week. I ask God to protect and care for you. I pray for Jesus to fill you the Holy Spirit’s wisdom so you can successfully navigate the intricacies and complexities of life. On the days when you are not sure what to do…On the days when you feel frightened, isolated and anxious, please know I am praying for you. On the days when you do not understand why things are as they are, please remember that you are in my prayers and Jesus is with you. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 22 September 2020
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
 
Every day we experience God’s love. God’s love comes to us through the Bible stories and songs of Faith. through good friends, good food and good memories we enjoy God’s love. God’s love comes to us through blue skies, starry nights, chilly mornings and autumn colors. The more we enjoy God’s love in these many ways the better we become at loving ourselves and one another.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 21 September 2020
the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. – Colossians 1:5-6a
 
We make deposits into our checking account so that the money is there when we need it. God makes deposits of hope in our hearts so that hope filled faith and love will be available to us when most needed. Faith and love spring form the hope God deposits into our spirits. As we go through trying times that drain our hope, Jesus deposits hope in our hearts each moment of every day. Because Jesus is the Depositor, we will always have all the hopeful faith and love we need so that the trials, stresses and tragedies of life will never get the best of us. Today, feel Jesus filling you with hope-filled faith and love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 19 September 2020
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – Colossians 1:3-4
 
Faith in Jesus leads to love for others. When we place our trust in Jesus, we invite Jesus to shape our thoughts, inspire our words and inform our deeds. Faith in Jesus opens our minds so that Christ’s thoughts become our thoughts and Christ’s ways become our ways. When Jesus’ thoughts and ways are part of us, then seeking the wellbeing of others becomes our way of life.
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Friday 18 September 2020
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:4-5
 
I love cars. The oldest car in my stable is Audrey. (All my cars have names.) Audrey is a pale yellow 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme named for my friend Ken’s mother-in-law. Audrey is temperamental, has some quirks and needs a lot of loving kindness. But each time I hear her Rocket 350 engine roar to life I am in my happy place. Like Audrey we are temperamental, have some quirks and need lots of loving kindness. Every day, Jesus generously gives us God’s loving kindness. Jesus gives us God’s loving kindness not because of good things we have done, but because Jesus loves us with all His heart, and delights in caring for us – quirks and all.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 17 September 2020
25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. – Matthew 12:25
 
Focusing on differences requires no faith in God or love for each other. Focusing on what unites us requires faith in Jesus who longs for us to be one. Focusing on what unites us requires humility, unconditional love, and a listening spirit. We are united by our common humanity, our hunger for acceptance, our need for food, clothing, shelter and a safe environment. We are united by our love of beauty, our passion for happiness, and our hunger for self-expression. We are united the God who creates all humans in God’s image. Our greatest strength is also our greatest challenge: Working to discover, nurture and celebrate all that unites us. By God’s grace we can do this!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 16 September 2020
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing – 2 Thessalonians 1:3
 
The best way I know to share my faith in Jesus is by loving others. Loving each other is all about recognizing the God-given beauty that is in each person. Sometimes this beauty is easy to find. Sometimes it takes work. Always it is present. Sadly, the beauty of many people is hidden under the scars of fear, anxiety, depression, insecurity, abuse. Jesus always looks beneath the surface to see our God-given inner beauty and to bring healing to our scars. When we love Jesus, we too look beneath the surface to see the precious God given beauty that lives in every human being because every human being is created in the beautiful image of God.

 

Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 15 September 2020
How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. – Psalm 104:24
 
Each season has unique sounds and smells and sights. While summer is with us through 21 September, the sounds and smells of fall are filling the air. Early morning birdsong is being replaced by the soothing sound of crickets. The fragrance of falling leaves is scenting the air. All things pumpkin spice are available. As we moving into an autumn filled with strange and stressful experiences of COVID-19, God invites us to enjoy the sounds of crickets, the smells of falling leaves and all of the other simple pleasures of autumn through which we experience the presence and peace of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 14 September 2020
Now this was how the lampstand was made, out of hammered work of gold. From its base to its flowers, it was hammered work; according to the pattern that the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand. – Numbers 8:4
 
The top of the Moses’ sanctuary lampstand was decorated with golden flowers. Flowers are central to worship. Colorful, fragrant and wonderfully different flowers are a picture of God’s loving, creative beauty. Seeing flowers makes my heart sing, “Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love; hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!” Through September’s asters, sedum and goldenrod, Jesus calls our hearts to unfold in the radiance of His love where we receive the immortal gladness Jesus has for us to enjoy today and every day.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 12 September 2020
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 His light. As Jesus shines in us, He illuminates all that is beautiful, good and right in us. As Christ’s light shines through us others experience the love of Jesus in our lives. Because Jesus lives in and through us we are the Light of the world. Today receive the light of Jesus and allow Christ’s light to fill you so that you and others will experience the warming, guiding, and inviting love of Jesus. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 11 September 2020
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 hoping to dig a pit of destruction, death and despair. Osama bin Laden expected that we would be unable to lift ourselves out of the pit. He was wrong. He failed to read King David’s words that whoever digs a pit falls into the pit they have made. Mr. bin Laden eventually fell into his pit. And by God’s grace we emerged stronger, smarter and more vigilant. On this day of remembrance Jesus calls us to fill in the pits, of the pandemic, racism and hunger and to make level the way that leads all people to experience the healing love of Jesus Christ our Savior, who raises us from every pit, every time.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 10 September 2020
Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. – Psalm 126:4
 
The rainy season in Israel transforms the Negev from a dry gully into a vibrant, rushing river. The Negev is parched and barren during one season. But during another is transformed into a vibrant center of rushing life. What a perfect picture of our lives. There are times when we feel parched and barren. Sometimes we know the cause. Sometimes we have no idea why we feel the way we do. Then there are times when we experience a wonderful sense of wellbeing. Our souls, like streams in the Negev, need God’s life-giving love. Jesus is with us. Jesus loves us. Jesus is pouring His love upon us and restoring our fortunes like streams in the Negev.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 9 September 2020
5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. – Psalm 126:5
 
Have you cried more this year than last year? We have much to cry over. Crying is good for the soul. Our tears remind us that we are vulnerable, that disappointment is painful, and that no matter our age or strength we are frail, vulnerable and need God’s care. Crying opens us to new insights about ourselves, about Jesus, and about life. Crying is a gift to be embraced. When we cry, Jesus enfolds us in His arms of love, to comforts us with His peace, and offers us God’s healing care.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 8 September 2020
10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” – Zechariah 4:10
 
To the Israelites who remember the greatness and grandeur of the Temple before it was destroyed, the rebuilt Temple of the Lord seems small and second rate. For we who remember what life was like when we could gather 160 strong in worship, fill our homes with family and friends for celebrations and pack ourselves into a sports stadium to root for our team, our new normal life seems second rate. God assures us through Zechariah that present greatness is not determined by past grandeur. Small is beautiful. Small is sacred. Small gatherings, small spaces and small moments are filled with God’s greatness.
 
Affectionately,
Ric

 

Monday 7 September 2020

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. – Zechariah 4:6
 
Zerubbabel was the last of King David’s descendants to be entrusted with political power. Zerubbabel doubts his ability to lead the recently returned Judean exiles who are working to rebuild their homes and God’s temple. God speaks to this self-doubting king through the prophet Zechariah, who assures Zerubbabel that God’s will give him all the wisdom, strength and perseverance he needs for his overwhelming task. What overwhelming tasks stand before you today, filling you with self-doubt? Be assured that the Holy Spirit is giving you the wisdom, strength and perseverance, you need. Everything will be well because it’s not by might, nor by power, but by God’s spirt that we will succeed.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
Saturday 5 September 2020
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17
 
We all struggle with negative feelings about ourselves and things we do not like about ourselves. Today I want us to let go of these negative feelings forever. Every day, Jesus lovingly enters our lives and fills us with God’s forgiveness, healing, acceptance, and restoration. Jesus loves us just the way we are. Whenever the demons of self-disappointment and self-loathing start poisoning our thoughts, please remember that Jesus loves us as we are, and Jesus is making us into new creations with His forgiving, healing, accepting and restoring touch. We are wonderfully made, and deeply loved by Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Friday 4 September 2020
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. – Psalm 19:4a-6
 
The days are getting shorter. I’ve been running on my treadmill because 5:00 a.m. looks like the middle of the night. September is here. Fall is coming. No matter how short the days become, the sun still brightens the skies and warms our world. The sun’s presence is a reliable constant in our lives. Just as nothing is deprived of the sun’s life-giving warmth, no one is deprived of the Son’s life-giving love. Jesus warms our lives with His love and lights our way with His presence.  Jesus’ loving presence in our lives is as certain as the sun shining every day.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 3 September 2020
As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. – Psalm 84:6
 
Each Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. I have a standing appointment with a shopping cart. Yesterday while wheeling my groceries to the rains poured down on me. After putting my bags in the trunk and returning the cart, I fell drenched into the driver’s seat – and laughed! After a long, hot, dusty, dry summer, God’s heavenly water felt great! The Valley of Baka is an arid, desolate space near Jerusalem that pilgrims traveling to God’s Temple walked through. When life feels arid, dry, and desolate, please know that Jesus is with us raining living water upon our lives to refresh our souls and restore our joy. Jesus’ wonderfully refreshing rains come when we least expect them! I’m so glad I didn’t have an umbrella!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 2 September 2020
12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. – Psalm 84:12
 
Sometimes it is easy to trust in Jesus. Memories of God’s loving care are fresh in our minds; things are going well in life; and God’s plan makes sense to us. Then there are times when trusting in the Lord is not easy. Jesus feels far away; things going on in our lives make us wonder if God cares about us; God seems silent; Jesus’ plans for us make little sense. Trusting Jesus when trust does not come easily takes work. Placing our confidence in Christ’s care for us – especially on the difficult days – opens us to receiving God’s peace and joy. They may not come right away, but I promise, you will receive God’s peace and God’s joy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 1 September 2020
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? – Matthew 6:26
 
After yesterday’s run, I took some time to cool off while drinking a cup of coffee (Granny always said, “Hot coffee cools the blood,”) and then went out to feed the birds. While spreading piles of seed on the ground beneath the hemlock trees, I enjoyed the songs of blue jays waiting to eat. Their loud and happy calls filled my heart with happiness. Through the bright carols of the blue jays I heard God assuring me that just as God works through me to care for His precious blue jays, Jesus cares for us, His precious people through the supportive kindness we receive from those who love us – be they people, pets or blue jays!
 
Affectionately,
Ric