Friday 5 June 2020
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. – Psalm 138:6
 
Offering kindness requires awareness of people who are experiencing injustice, and suffering violence at the hands of others. God takes the time to be aware of us, to see our needs and to respond by doing whatever it takes to offer us loving kindness – even giving us Jesus. As the diseases of COVID-19 and racism continue to infect our world, Jesus calls us to look with kindness upon His beloved people who experience fear, injustice and hatred. These beautiful people need to experience God’s loving kindness as it flows through us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 4 June 2020
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. – Hosea 11:4
 
Human kindness connects us to Jesus and keeps us close to each other. The kindness we offer shows God’s loving care in ways we can experience and feel. The song, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” gives us a picture of what cords of human kindness look like. “We share each other’s woes, our mutual burdens bear; and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.” This is the kindness Jesus calls us to offer to all people, especially our African American sisters and brothers who, throughout our nation’s history, have received too much injustice and too little kindness.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 3 June 2020
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. – Jeremiah 31:3
 
Kindness is attractive. Jesus shows God’s kindness by creating safe spaces for people to be heard, understood and cared for. Safe spaces where we can be heard, understood and receive care draw us in because they are attractive. We live our faith in Jesus by creating safe spaces where people can be heard, understood and cared for. When people are heard, understood and cared for, brokenness heals, fear dissipates, and dignity returns.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 2 June 2020
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. – Jeremiah 31:3
 
Because God’s kindness is unfailing, our kindness always succeeds. In what seems like the greatest failure of God’s kindness – Jesus’ crucifixion – still God’s kindness succeeds. Jesus is assaulted by venomous, deadly hatred while being held to a cross by nails. And Jesus returns hatred with kindness as he prays, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing.” Kindness rejected is never failed kindness. Whether received or rejected, the kindness we offer others never fails because kindness offered always changes people and environments for the better. Always.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 1 June 2020
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. – Jeremiah 31:3
 
We are immersed in God’s kindness. In kindness God gives us air to breathe, flavors to savor, water to drink, fragrances to enjoy, flowers and trees to appreciate, people who to live love us, sleep that restores, a Savior who rescues us as often as we need rescuing. Everyday God lavishes kindness upon us. When we appreciate God’s unfailing kindness, we become people who offer kindness to others as lavishly as God offers kindness to us.
Affectionately, Ric 
 
Saturday 30 May 2020
12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. – Hebrews 6:12
 
Patience and exercise have much in common. Our muscles strengthen as we use them. Our patience strengthens as we use it. In a workout muscles grow when an opposing force (lifting weights, doing crunches/planks, or running uphill) causes them to work hard. Patience grows when an opposing force (an unpleasant circumstance) gives our patience a workout. Like muscle strength training, patience strength training requires disciplined commitment. After exercising or exercising patience, we feel better about ourselves and have a brighter outlook on life. Physical and patience workouts strengthen our faith in Jesus, who gives us the strength to exercise patience in life’s toughest workouts.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 29 May 2020
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12
 
Strong people are not those with shirt popping muscles, powerful positions or the biggest social media followings. The strong are people whose deep patience shows up in a gentleness that makes them approachable, safe, and loving. The strong people are Fred Rogers, Bob Ross, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, Jesus. It takes no strength to be brash, abrasive, or abusive. It takes great strength to live a life of patient gentleness. Experiencing patient gentleness renews our spirits, restores our hope, and replenishes our strength. Who are the patiently gentle people you need to be with today?
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 28 May 2020
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, – Colossians 1:11
 
Navigating negative experiences requires endurance. Good movies, tasty deserts, delicious dinners, and time spent with good friends and special family members are things we enjoy not endure. We save our powers of endurance for root canals, physical therapy, long exams, long checkout lines and financial struggles. Effective endurance is saturated with patience. At the same time, endurance is exhausting. When we are tired, our patience wears thin. Being unusually tired is a sign that we’ve done too much enduring and not enough enjoying. Jesus is calling you to do things you enjoy so that your patient God-inspired endurance will be there when you need it.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 27 May 2020
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness… – 2 Corinthians 6:4, 6
 
Thinking Lisa had the dish securely in her grip I let go. Suddenly there was ice cream and chocolate sauce all over the rug. “Oh for crying out loud!” A I cleaned up the mess, God cleaned up my impatience. When we lose patience, kindness evaporates. Patience makes kindness possible. Faith in Jesus gives us the ability to offer patient kindness when we’d rather be angry. It took a few moments, but by God’s grace I recovered my patience, and showed kindness by accepting responsibility for the mess rather than playing the blame game and making a bigger mess. Patience makes kindness possible.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 26 May 2020
11 A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. – Proverbs 19:11
 
On Monday 9 March we had no idea how radically different life would be by Sunday 15 March. We’ve been in COVID-19 mode for ten weeks. We feel we’ve been patient for long enough. But viruses, like many other things in life, do not conform to our schedules or desires. So, more patience is required. Patience takes work, wisdom, and faith because patience is only needed when things are not going the way we want them to. Let’s spend the week strengthening our patience because we’re going to need strong patience to wisely navigate the challenging months that lie ahead.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Memorial Day 2020
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. – Psalm 20:7
 
On this sacred day we celebrate those who offered their lives, defending a nation whose core belief is that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” We thank God for the service people who risked and gave their lives defending the highest ideals of the United States. Today we honor the sacrifice of our military women and men, and of those serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis by committing to courageously working for the equality of all, so that people of all races, cultures and religions who call America home may fully enjoy, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 23 May 2020
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees. – Psalm 119:64
 
Jesus speaks through creation to assure us that He loves us. Through colorful flowers, sweet springtime smells, budding trees and green grass Jesus is saying, “I love you!” God’s springtime flowers – daffodils, tulips, lilacs, rhododendrons, lilies of the valley, and azaleas assure us that the earth is filled with God’s love. Each springtime flower is Jesus’ invitation to sing, “Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love; hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.” Flowers are God’s invitation to open our hearts to Jesus, whose love fills us with hope, strength and joy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 22 May 2020
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. – Psalm 89:11
 
We do not own the things we most enjoy in life: Sunshine, clean air, blue skies, colorful sunsets, fertile soil, tall trees, puffy clouds, rainbows, singing birds. Life’s central blessings are free and should be available to all. How wonderful that, as the song says, “the best things in life are free!” Whenever we become preoccupied with the need to own things, God reminds us that we cannot have life without the essentials that no human owns but every human needs and is created to enjoy. On this beautiful Friday, please take time to enjoy God’s beautiful creation.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 21 May 2020
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. – Psalm 85:11
 
With spade in hand, I went to my garden and turned over the soil. Every shovelful of rich, worm-filled earth celebrated God’s faithfulness. Rich soil, colorful flowers, sprouting seedlings, greening trees and green grass proclaim God’s life-giving faithfulness. God’s faithfulness truly springs forth from the earth. When we feel the soil and smell the sweetness of spring, we are enjoying God’s faithful love that springs forth from the earth.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 20 May 2020
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 the world that enjoys God’s four seasons is a gift. The flowers, fragrances, and soft green tree leaves of spring renew our hope and happiness. Summer’s long days and warm temperatures invite us to enjoy a slower pace of life. The rich, vibrant colors, and earthy fragrances of Autumn are a joy. And there’s Thanksgiving! Winter’s crisp starry nights and snowy days invite us to enjoy God’s greatness and purity. And there’s Jesus’ birthday celebration! Through each season God gives us unique opportunities to care for and enjoy His beautiful and perfect creation.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 19 May 2020
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. – Psalm 65:8
 
Two events make Saturdays special for me: Worshiping God while crafting Sunday’s service with my amazing YouTube worship team. Enjoying a phone conversation with my Gramma Hanse. Two Saturdays ago, Gram and I spoke of our desire to live in God’s beautiful world for as long as possible. “The world is perfect Ricky. Creation is perfect,” Gram said to as we spoke how we experience God’s joy during the pandemic. With every sunrise, and through every sunset God invites us to enjoy this beautiful earth. Today please take time to smell the air, feel the grass, look at a tree, enjoy flowers, linger over the setting sun, and through creation feel God calling forth songs of joy in your spirit.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 18 May 2020
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” – Song of Songs 2:13
 
Lilacs are my favorite springtime flower. These tiny light purple flower clusters sweeten the world with their wonderful fragrance. Through the soothing colors and sweet smells of lilac and other springtime blossoms we enjoy the sweetness of God’s love. When the loneliness, stress and anxiety of the pandemic weigh upon us, Jesus comes to us through the colors and fragrances of May blossoms and lovingly says to us, “Arise, come my beautiful one, come with me and enjoy my love.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 16 May 2020
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. – Mark 13:26
 
When beams of light break through clouds to touch the earth, God shows us that Jesus’ warm and hopeful love is with us. When clouds bend sunlight, we enjoy the beauty of rainbows that assure us of God’s promise to love and care for us always – even in the most difficult days. When clouds part and sunlight pours through, we rediscover Jesus’ promise to return some day and make all things good. Until that day comes, sunbeams and rainbows assure us that Jesus is powerful enough to redeem the bad and bring about good for us and this world He loves.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 15 May 2020
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. – Psalm 147:8
 
When gray rainy days disrupt my outdoor plans, I remember the deadly firestorm that swept through Paradise, California. I’ll take the inconvenience of a rainy day over a drought fueled firestorm every time. When things are going wrong in life, it is difficult to see beyond our trials. Making matters worse, we stop seeing the good God does for us even in trying times. It takes faith to find God’s blessings in tough times because the blessings are often small and hidden. Please spend today looking for God’s small, hidden, beautiful blessings.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 14 May 2020
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. – Psalm 31:9
 
How are you holding up during these difficult days? As the weeks wear on we feel a sorrowful longing to return to life as we knew it. Worshiping God in the same space. Enjoying crowded parks and basketball courts. Going to work. Coming and going as we please. Spending time in a nursing home, hospital, or restaurant without fearing for our lives. When sorrow starts creeping in, please pray Psalm 31:9. Then share your struggles with Jesus. Next, reach out to someone you trust and whose company you enjoy. We may be physically distant, but let’s keep socially close.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 13 May 2020
The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent 3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. – Psalm 104:2-3
 
One of my favorite movie scenes is the chariot race in “Ben Hur”. The thunderous roar of those powerful chariots is exciting. Monday afternoon’s thunderstorm got me thinking about that chariot race and imagining Jesus making the thunder clouds His heavenly chariot. Letting our minds wander is wonderfully fun. Through clouds and creation, God invites us to use our imaginations. We may not be able to travel far physically, but our God given imaginations make it possible for us to go anywhere! Even to a Ben Hur style chariot race in the heavens!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 12 May 2020
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. – Psalm 121:5-6
 
Yesterday’s dreary cloudiness made for a gray day. But sometimes cloud cover is a blessing. On a hot summer day, it is wonderful when clouds shield us from the sun. Allow the clouds to be a reminder that God is our protecting cover from the spirit scorching pain of disease, unemployment, financial hardship, food insecurity, anxiety about our health, depression and fear. When we go through trying times God covers us with protecting love that brings us through the worst times to better days.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 11 May 2020
I love you, Lord, my strength…11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky. – Psalm 18:1, 11
 
We like sunny days. Cloudy, damp weather days tend to make our spirits sag. But cloudy days of rain are blessings too. When rain-soaked cloud cover washes the world in gray, remember that even when things are not as we want them to be, life is good because God our strength is with us. Our strength does not come from sunny – things going as we want them to – days. Our strength comes from God whose strong love carries us through all days. Because God is our strength, cloudy days and gray feelings will never get the better of us because God is our strength.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 9 May 2020
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8
 
How are you sleeping? For King David (who wrote Psalm 4) life is filled with stress: conflicts with other nations, children who wanted to dethrone or kill him, and temptations that sometimes got the better of him. Through the turbulence of his life, David experiences peace because he knows God will keep him safe. David lives in the assurance that God is protecting him even if his body fails. David is at peace because he knows that he is safe in God forever. When sleep eludes you, please pray Psalm 4:8. And keep praying it until you fall asleep. Oh, and gat a moment for a nap today.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 8 May 2020
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – John 15:13
 
Wednesday is my “new normal” grocery day. Food shopping gives us the opportunity to experience the peace of Jesus. Some foods are scarce – meat is becoming less plentiful, and toilet paper is a hit or miss item. Rather than hoarding these, I buy only what I need. Or I buy these scarce items for people who need them. Buying only what I need gives me peace because I am trusting Jesus to supply my needs and work through me to meet the needs of others. Trusting that Jesus will meet our needs leads us to help not hoard and this trust brings us peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 7 May 2020
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:13-14
 
Christmas is a distant memory, but the gifts God gave us through Jesus’ birth are not up in the attic with the Christmas decorations. In their song to the shepherds on the first Christmas, God’s angels declare, “Peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.” Upon whom does God favor rest? EVERYONE! Jesus comes to bring peace to everyone. When we are feeling stressed, anxious, fearful, or depressed, remember that God’s favor rests on us, so God’s peace fills us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 6 May 2020
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23:1-2
 
What is your green pasture place? What places fill you with God’s refreshing peace? My home is my green pasture place. No matter how crazy or dangerous things are in the world, when I am in my home, I experience God’s refreshing peace. God gives each of us a place where we experience the protecting love of Jesus. Jesus’ protecting love restores our peace. Whenever you feel frayed, go to your green pasture place and experience the restoring peace of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 5 May 202012
LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. – Isaiah 26:12
Peace is not something we conjure, craft, or create. Peace is something we receive. Peace is God’s gift to us. When we were children, we didn’t make Christmas happen. The presents showed up under the tree because of the loving efforts of others. All we did was unwrap and enjoy! Whenever consternation, agitation and anxiety diminish our peace, all we need do is take some deep breaths, place our palms up, and receive Jesus’ gift of peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
P.S. Take six minutes today to hear God speaking through the beautiful Horace Silver song, “Peace”. 
 
Monday 4 May 2020
32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:32a, 33
 
Jesus warns His friends of a time when hatred will lead to His death and force His followers to shelter in place. COVID-19 is filling us with fear. Sheltering in place keeps us safe. But fear still creeps in. When fear makes us anxious, Jesus assures us that we find shelter in Him. Because Jesus has overcome hatred, death and fear, Jesus is our perfect shelter. In Jesus we are safe from fear. In Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we have peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 2 May 2020
16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. – Luke 18:16
 
One of the things I miss most about in person worship is time with our children. Watching children run and skip down the aisle to claim a seat with me fills my heart with happiness. Seeing the beautiful mix of races among our children as they sit with me makes my spirit soar. Children are priceless treasures from God. During these difficult days Jesus calls us to remember that things are difficult for our children as well. Children need us to give them extra prayers, extra patience, extra sensitivity, extra attentiveness and extra laughter.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 1 May 2020
The LORD remembers us and will bless us…small and great alike. – Psalm 115:12a, 13b
 
Because God is present in all time and space, size is meaningless to God. God is big enough to cover all the universe and beyond. God is big enough to be involved in every detail of every life. Compared with God, the biggest, strongest and greatest person is small. And God has a special place in God’s heart for the small: sparrows, shepherds, the poor, the lost, the lonely, the marginalized and each of us. When the largeness of life’s struggles makes us feel small, all we need to do is look up, breathe deeply, place our palms up and receive the loving care of Jesus which is present for everyone – especially the small.
 
Affectionately,
Ric

 

Thursday 30 April 2020

12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. – Song of Songs 2:12
 
Flowers are God’s gift to us – bringing beauty, offering hope and brightening our days. In early February, bright yellow witch hazel blossoms bring brilliant color to winter’s landscape. In early March snow drops appear. Through these delicate blossoms God assures us that spring is coming. By mid-April daffodils, tulips and bloodroot blossoms are brightening the world, assuring us that Jesus is alive. Flowers always lead me to the hopeful words, “Joyful, joyful we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love; hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.” When COVID-19 days get the better of you, spend time with flowers and God’s beautiful love will restore your hope.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 29 April 2020
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. – Luke 12:6
 
Around 6:30 each morning, I feed the birds. While placing about 20 small piles of birdseed and sunflower seed on the ground I hear sparrows fluttering around in the rhododendrons and hemlocks overhead. Little brown chirping sparrows rarely catch anyone’s attention. But each sparrow catches God’s attention. God treasures every tiny sparrow. God loves sparrows so deeply that God never forgets a single one of them. God who remembers every sparrow, remembers us. God remembers how special we are. God remembers beautiful we are. God remembers how precious we are because we are God’s beloved. Whenever you feel forgotten think of little sparrows and be assured that you are God’s beloved treasure.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 28 April 2020
30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. – Matthew 10:30
 
How is your hair doing? My hair is as long as it was when Lisa and I married in 1988. In a month or two my hair will look like it did in 1977! I should have saved my green leisure suit! Having so much hair reminds me that God loves us so deeply and is so interested in each detail of our lives that God knows how many hairs we have on our heads. Each hair is numbered. Wow! During bad hair days and long hair months, remember God is lovingly interested in every detail of our lives. We are that important to God. God has our hairs numbered and God believes each hair is the perfect length!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 27 April 2020
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. – Psalm 115:1
 
Right now, the bad feels very big. During these tough times it is easy to focus all our attention on the bad things because they are so big. When the bad overwhelms us, we have a tough time seeing, experiencing and enjoying the many beautiful blessings God gives us in the small things of life. Let’s spend the week redirecting our focus. Let’s discover God’s loving care and beautiful faithfulness through the small blessings that, when put together, are far bigger than the bad!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 25 April 2020
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. – Psalm 131:2
 
When you are stressed, what calms your spirit? Now, more than ever we need to do the things that calm us. God gives us wonderful ways to calm our spirits and quiet our minds. But when our minds to race and our spirits are agitated, we overlook the God given spirit-calming blessings. What calms your spirit and quiets your mind? A warm shower? A good workout? A walk? A hot beverage? Music? Prayer? A walk? A phone call with a friend or family member? A good book? Reading the Bible? Yard work? Please take advantage of God’s spirit calming, mind quieting gifts that calm our spirits, quiet our minds and restore our peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 24 April 2020
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20b
 
Isolation and loneliness are two terrible side effects of the Corona virus pandemic. Social distancing (which is central to loving our neighbor, protecting life and stopping the virus) reminds us that God designed us to live in community. When loneliness seems to be our only companion it is good to let Jesus’ words sink into our souls, “Surely I am with you always.” When we are lonely and blue Jesus comes to us through the words, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.” Jesus is with us always. We are never alone. Talk with Him, cry with Him, laugh with Him. Jesus is our Friend who is with us always.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
P.S. Here’s a wonderful version of “What A Friend” sung by the Mississippi Mass Choir. You’ll love it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18Zx74T70bs
 
Thursday 23 April 2020
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. – Matthew 28:19-20a
 
A disciple is a follower. Shortly after rising from the dead, Jesus gives the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Have you decided to follow Jesus? What led you to become a disciple of Jesus? Three things led me to be a follower of Jesus: The loving support of my church family. Good mentors. My family’s commitment to Jesus and involvement in church. Giving people the opportunity to become Jesus’ followers involves loving support, sharing our faith experiences and what we’ve learned, and living our faith in daily life. In these stress-filled days people need to experience Jesus’ loving support, wise guidance, and unconditional loving kindness through us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 22 April 2020
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. – Matthew 28:18
 
“The buck stops here,” is one of President Harry Truman’s most famous statements. He didn’t say it to show off his power. These words reminded President Truman of his awesome responsibility to work for the wellbeing of our nation and the world. When the risen Jesus tells His followers that all authority is His, that the buck stops with Him, Jesus is assuring us that no matter how chaotic things may seem, Jesus has the power to work through everything – bad and good – to bring healing, forgiveness and wellbeing to the world. We can have courage in tough times because the buck stops with Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 21 April 2020
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. – Matthew 28:16-17
 
Early on the first Easter, an angel tells the women that Jesus will meet them in Galilee, where Jesus’ ministry began. Following the angel’s words, Jesus’ friends make the ninety-mile trip north. On a Galilean mountain the risen Jesus appears. Some disciples worship. Some disciples doubt. The honesty of the Resurrection account is wonderful! Sometimes we worship Jesus. Sometimes we doubt. Both are healthy. Worship is offering our praise to God. Doubt is offering our questions to God. Worship leads to doubtful questions. And questions lead to worship that is deeper, stronger, and genuine.
 
Affectionately,
Ric

 

Monday 20 April 2020

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. – Psalm 51:7
 

“Ricky, we do so much to mess up God’s world. When God sends snow, He makes the world clean and beautiful for a few moments,” my Grampa Hanse shared with me on a snowy day. On Saturday God blanketed my yard with 2.5 inches of precious, beautiful snow. The pure beauty of this mid-April snow assured me that our God loves us, is with us and is working through these anxious and difficult days to cleanse our joy, purify our hope and brighten our resolve. Thank you, Lord for the April snow!

 
Affectionately,
Ric 
 
Saturday 18 April 2020
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. – Matthew 28:5-6
 
Flowers are a perfect symbol of Jesus’ resurrection. The flowers of early spring that bring brightness to an otherwise barren landscape assure us that in the midst of dreariness, there is hope. Jesus is alive! The bloodroot flower is one of my springtime favorites. Through their bright beauty, God assures us that Jesus is alive, and even though trials abound, God is bringing about beautiful new beginnings for us. Also, these bloodroot flowers look up to the heavens, reminding us of the joyous words, “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!”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 17 April 2020
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. – Luke 24:30-31
 
Delicious food is one of God’s great gifts. On the day of His resurrection, Jesus walks with two of His followers from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They do not recognize Jesus until the Lord takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to them. During dinner that they recognize Jesus. Through God’s gift of food, we enjoy the presence, goodness and love of Jesus. Mealtime is God’s gift to us. Eat slowly. Savor each bite. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 16 April 2020
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” – Matthew 28:10
 
I love grocery shopping. Some of my best memories are attached to supermarkets. Enjoying delicious free samples and complementary beverages with Gramma Hanse. Traveling every aisle with Granny Mercaldi. Getting whatever I wanted with Grampa Hanse. Grocery shopping fills me with gratitude for God’s bounty. How our supermarket experience in the age of COVID-19 has changed! It’s stressful and exhausting. Wearing my mask and rubber gloves I keep away from everyone. So different. Sad and weary, I hear Jesus saying, “Ricky, do not be afraid.” My gratitude returns. I see Jesus in each store worker. Granny Mercaldi and Grampa Hanse walk the aisles with me. Tears wet my mask. God is good.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 15 April 2020
Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. – Matthew 28:9
 
“Greetings!” the risen Lord Jesus says to the women hurrying away from His tomb with the news that He is alive. Recognizing Jesus, they fall to their knees, touch Jesus’ feet and worship Him. Everything changes for the better! For five weeks we have been living in a world that’s been radically changed for the worse by the Corona virus. Fear, anxiety, uncertainty and death surround us, just as they surrounded the women on that first Easter. Jesus comes to the women and things change for the better. Jesus comes to us, greets us with His love, takes us in His arms and assures us that He is with us to guide us through these difficult days. Jesus comes to us and things change for the better.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 14 April 2020
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. – Matthew 28:8
 
The good news of Jesus’ birth is given shepherds the world views as nobodies. The good news of Jesus’ resurrection is given women the world views as nobodies. If the stories of Jesus’ birth and resurrection were made up tales, the people sharing the news that God was born and risen would be men of importance and influence. But this is not how God works. Those whom the world undervalues, and overlooks are the ones God values and trusts with the most important news ever shared: Jesus is born, and Jesus is risen. Whenever you feel undervalued and overlooked, know that God values you, and God knows you intimately.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Easter Monday 13 April 2020
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. – Matthew 28:5-6
 
The women who faithfully follow Jesus are the last ones to leave the cross and the first ones to visit the cemetery. Throughout His three years of public ministry the women supported, encouraged and cared for Jesus, because God the Son values their intelligence, honors their wisdom and looks upon them as human beings created in God’s image. Through His relationship with women, God the Son shows the world that women are equal to men, and women possess intelligence, wisdom, courage and strength that transforms the world for the better! The Easter story proves it!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Holy Saturday 11 April 2020
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” – Matthew 27:62-64
 
Afraid that Jesus’ followers will steal His body and tell everyone He rose from the dead, the people who orchestrated Jesus’ execution convince Governor Pilate to set a guard at His tomb. They fear someone breaking into the tomb. They cannot imagine someone breaking out. No one can. Not even Jesus’ closest friends. But Jesus works in ways we cannot imagine, doing things we don’t expect and bringing life into places where all we see is darkness and death. Today there is bad in the world the likes of which we have never experienced. And Jesus is working in ways we cannot imagine, doing things we don’t expect and bringing to each place of darkness and death, His abundant, joyous, resurrection life.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Good Friday 10 April 2020
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. – Matthew 27:32
 
Simon of Cyrene is in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Curious about Jesus’ death march, Simon presses to the street’s edge where a Roman soldier grabs Simon and pulls him towards a battered man, slumped on the ground. The solider orders Simon to carry Jesus’ cross. Silently, Simon picks up the heavy cross, positions it on his shoulder and carries Jesus’ burden to the place of execution. Simon carries the cross for Jesus. Jesus goes to the cross for Simon and for all humanity. On the cross Jesus carries wrong every person of every age has ever done. Compared with Jesus’ burden, Simon’s burden is small. But taking up the cross changes Simon’s life forever, just as taking up the cross changes us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Holy Thursday 9 April 2020
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. – Luke 22:14-15
 
Jesus eagerly gathers his closest friends around Him to celebrate one last Passover. Passover remembers God freeing the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery by sending an angel of death to Egypt who visits every house whose doorframe is not brushed with the blood of a lamb and passing over each home whose door frame is red with lamb’s blood. Only the Hebrew homes were brushed with lamb’s blood. When Jesus creates Holy Communion during His Last Passover Supper, He becomes the new Passover Lamb, whose blood is shed to free us from slavery to fear, wrongdoing, insecurity, isolation, anxiety and death. What do you need to be freed from on this Holy Thursday? Please join me in spirit this evening at 7pm for a YouTube Communion Celebration. Bring to your TV or computer some bread and juice and together we will celebrate a meal of freedom that makes us one with Jesus and each other.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Holy Wednesday 8 April 2020
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. – Matthew 26:6-7
 
Jesus spends His last Wednesday evening in the world enjoying supper with Simon (someone He probably healed of leprosy). Simon’s dinner party is interrupted by a woman who silently approaches Jesus and lovingly pours the fanciest perfume money can buy on Jesus’ head. The disciples see this is a rude and wasteful interruption. Jesus is grateful for the woman’s extravagant love, saying to His friends, “She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Unexpected interruptions in our lives are filled with beauty we often miss. Hidden in the huge interruption we are enduring are many beautiful moments and opportunities for us to offer extravagant love to Jesus through our beautiful acts of kindness.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Holy Tuesday 7 April 2020
17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” – Matthew 22:17-21
 
Hoping to use Jesus’ words against Him, the religious leaders send professors and lawyers to trap Him with the “perfect question.” If He says pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus is not loyal to God. If He says give only to God, Jesus is opposing Rome. But Jesus gives a “both/and” answer to their “either/or” question. Jesus says, “Give to the government and give to God. There’s room for both. During these COVID-19 days we can follow government rules for social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing and staying home. And we can keep close to each other though phone calls, texts, emails, prayers and chalk messages. Never believe that it’s this or that. There’s always a “both/and” answer if we look with eyes of Faith to find it.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Holy Monday 6 April 2020
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. – Matthew 21:21-22
 
Early on the Monday after Palm Sunday, Jesus heads back into Jerusalem. Coming upon a figless fig tree, Jesus curses it and the tree withers. His friends are amazed. “If you have faith,” Jesus says, “You can say to a mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” Mountains are moved by doing the hard work of excavation. Faith gives us the strength to do difficult, mountain moving work. The COVID-19 days that lie ahead look like mountains too tall to navigate. Our faith in Jesus gives us strength to do the difficult work of removing the mountains of fear, despair and hopelessness that keep us from enjoying Jesus’ peace. We have faith in Jesus! These mountains don’t stand a chance!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 4 April 2020
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” – Matthew 21:8-9
 
The road Jesus rides into Jerusalem is covered with freshly cut palm branches placed by hundreds of people who welcome Him with the greeting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Hosanna means “save”. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. To get ready for this sacred day, please cut a small branch from any tree or shrub, (evergreens work well) or take a tuft of grass, and on Sunday morning raise it to Jesus while saying, “Hosanna!” In these difficult days we all need a Hosanna. We need Jesus to save us from our fears, our anxieties, our insecurities and our anger. As we raise our branches and say “Hosanna” we will experience the saving love of Jesus and receive His hopeful peace. Hosanna! Save us Lord Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 3 April 2020
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
 
We use locks to guard our homes and passwords to guard our accounts. We guard our health through social distancing, sanitizing mail and groceries, and by washing our hands frequently. We also need to guard our hearts and minds. Prayer is the best way I know to keep anxiety, worry and fear from stealing our peace. Tell Jesus everything that frightens, frustrates and worries you. Share with Jesus how you want things to be. Be real with God. Telling our worries and fears to Jesus gets them off our minds and into God’s capable hands. After giving a fear or worry to Jesus exhale deeply to show that God has your worry. Then inhale deeply and feel the protecting peace of Jesus filling your mind, heart and spirit.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 2 April 2020
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6
 
Two nights ago, I woke up at 11:41, and couldn’t get back to sleep. After silently reciting psalms, Robert Frost Poems and songs by Tony Bennet and Frank Sinatra, I was still wide awake. “Lord, please help me sleep.” Soon I was thinking of new ways to connect with my precious church family, and people needing a call. Magically it was 5:30 a.m. Thank you God for sleep! Peace is a precious commodity in these trying times. Rather than letting anxiety get the better of us, let’s talk to God. When all my get-back-to-sleep strategies failed, I talked with God. God knew thoughts of work would calm my spirit. Sharing our anxieties with God gets our worries outside of ourselves and into God’s capable, caring hands.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 1 April 2020
30 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31
 
Loving our neighbor looks different today. Showing love to one another used to look like warm hugs, friendly handshakes, meals together at diners and restaurants, spending time at coffee shops and coffee hours, inviting people to our homes. Today and for the foreseeable future we love our neighbors by doing everything we can to keep ourselves separate from each other so as not to unwittingly spread the Corona virus. Loving one another looks different today than it did on 1 March. But the foundation for loving our neighbor never changes. Loving our neighbor looks like doing whatever needs to be done for their wellbeing. The expression of love may change. But love’s motivation is always the same.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 31 March 2020
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. – Mark 12:30
 
What does loving God look like? It is talking with God – sharing everything that’s on our minds. Loving God is listening to God through the Bible’s words, through music we enjoy, through sounds of nature, and the words of others. We love God by learning about God through study of the Bible and other good books that teach us about God. Loving God is enjoying God by delighting in delicious food, singing songs to God from our hearts, and inviting God to be in everything we do – grocery shopping, working, playing, working out and relaxing. Loving God keeps God – NOT COVID-19 – at the center of our lives. With God at the center we shall come to better days because with God there are always better days ahead.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 30 March 2020
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12
 
Grocery shopping is different in the days of COVID-19. On a drizzly Saturday evening Lisa and I stood in line, outside, without jackets. When we got to the clerk making sure only 50 people were in the store at a time my crankiness became gratitude. “Thank you for being out here in the cold for hours.” She smiled. Gathering our groceries (still no TP) we checked out with a cashier, whose smile was beautiful. “Thank you for your work. You make our lives better.” She smiled. That evening God removed my crabbiness and clothed me with kindness. Please offer God’s kindness to the store clerks who are risking their lives for us. They are gifts from God in whom we experience the love of Jesus.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 28 March 2020
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. – Genesis 2:2
 
We’re all busy putting new work, life and home systems in place in the age of COVID-19. Are you tired? It’s time to rest. We could keep working seven days a week. After all there’s so much to do! But why? I imagine that God’s work is never finished. Yet God takes time to rest. If God rests, shouldn’t we? What is wearing you down? Hear Jesus inviting you to give that burden to Him to carry for a while. Today please take time for rest. Take a nap. Take a walk. Read a book. Watch a movie. Listen to music while hanging out in your favorite room. Play a board game. Rest
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 27 March 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
 
Jeremiah’s heart aches over the suffering of his people. Desperate for God’s healing touch, Jeremiah asks, “Why is there no healing balm for the wound of my people?” The African-American spiritual based on this verse answers, “Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain. But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.” As COVID-19 spreads, and anxiety heightens, take a moment to rub some lotion on your well-washed hands. Through hand balm feel God comforting your dry hands and bringing healing comfort to your soul.
 
Please take three minutes to enjoy the Adventist Vocal Ensemble’s soul healing version of this great spiritual. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fcMxI_6xsk
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 26 March 2020
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2a
 
I have always hoped that should a time of testing come, I would, like the Greatest Generation, rise to the occasion and make it my finest hour. Times of testing always ambush us, bringing out the best and the worst within. We are not fighting the evil powers of World War II, but we are working together to disable a disease that preys on the vulnerable. Whenever fear, anger, sorrow or hopelessness wrap their cords around us, remember that the cloud of witnesses – those who are now in God’s kingdom – are cheering us on. They are calling us to make this our finest hour by doing whatever it takes to care for others. Like the Greatest Generation let us live Jesus’ call to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 25 March 2020
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:27
 
Once we start worrying about something, we cannot convince ourselves to stop. So how can we keep worry from taking over during these trying days when anyone could be carrying COVID-19, when we are losing our jobs, when store supplies are scarce and when social distancing is literally a means by which to save lives? Five simple steps: Tell Jesus what’s worrying you. Share your worries with a friend or family member. Think of people you love who have gone through tough times and made it through. Do some deep breathing. Breathe in the peace of Jesus and breathe out the worries. Think of a comforting song. So, instead of convincing ourselves not to worry, let’s use these steps to send worry away.
 

Affectionately,

Ric

Tuesday 24 March 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

 
Every morning between 6:00 and 6:30 I feed the birds and freshen the water in the birdbath. While pouring seed in the feeder and setting little piles of birdseed and sunflower seed (squirrels need to eat too!) on the ground, I listen to the beginnings of birdsong and the fluttering of wings as they await the opening of Hanse’s Birdland Diner. Watching birds enjoy breakfast fills me with peace as God speaks through them, assuring me that as precious as the birds are to God, we are even more valuable. Caring for birds assure me that God loves us, cares for us, and makes all things well.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 23 March 2020
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? – Matthew 6:25
 
On Friday the 13th I went grocery shopping. With supplies in cart, I got in line – at the back of the store. It took an hour and a half for me to inch past the deli, coffee section and bakery to the cashier. On Saturday night, I went to the store for a few essentials. The crowd was thin and so were the supplies. I got creative and made it work. As we navigate these trying times we can worry and stress over not having enough, or trust that Jesus is supplying our needs as He promised. When worry over not having enough creeps in, hear Jesus saying, “Do not worry, I am caring for you.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 21 March 2020
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. – Psalm 138:7
 
Last evening my son Jonathan and I enjoyed a walk together. Lots of people had the same idea. We kept plenty of distance between ourselves and the other walkers. After all we are walking through troubled times. With springtime fragrances enveloping us, Jonathan and I enjoyed wonderful conversation. Through our walk God assured me that when we walk through trouble, Jesus stretches His hand against our fears, anxieties, diseases and insecurities, pushing them away, drawing us close, and enfolding us with confidence, peace, healing and security.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 20 March 2020
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23
 
Living life under the Corona virus cloud is stressful. Empty store shelves, worries about contracting or spreading the disease, and isolation are scary. Thanks to God’s great love these stresses will not consume us. Each morning, new portions of Jesus’ loving compassion give our minds new perspective, our hearts new joy, our spirits new peace and our bodies new strength. As the song declares, “Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessing all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 19 March 2020
32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. – Numbers 13:32
 
Coming to border of the Promised Land, Moses sends a team to scope things out. They report back that the land is lush, but the people are too powerful to take on. Caleb disagrees, saying, “We can certainly do it!” Living life in the days of the Corona virus, we cannot allow the pandemic and its effects to overwhelm us. Caleb’s faith in God fills him with courage. Like Caleb, let’s stand and show the world that we can do all things in Christ who is our strength! When feelings of stress, fear, frustration and anxiety come upon us, remember God is bigger than this virus, and in Jesus we can do all things!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 18 March 2020
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” – Isaiah 52:7
 
When things are going well it is easy to see beauty in life. When we are bombarded by bad news, and our way of life changes for the worse, the beautiful seems hidden. Amid all the bad news, remember the good news that our God reigns! God is larger, greater, stronger than any virus. God’s reigning glory is filling our spirits and enabling us to enjoy the beauty that is the secure comfort of our homes, good conversations, the silence of a moment, the words of a good book, the assurance that Jesus is working all things together for good. Because God reigns, this day is beautiful!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 17 March 2020
76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. – Psalm 119:76
 
As we navigate the uncharted and uncomfortable territory of the Corona virus, God’s unfailing love is with us. God’s unfailing love is our comfort. God’s comforting love comes to us in wonderful ways: A hot cup of coffee or tea. A cozy blanket. A favorite song. A friendly smile. A warm greeting. A good memory. A tasty meal. A good laugh. A singing bird. A sprouting plant. A dear friend. A precious family member. God’s unfailing love is all around us. What wonderful comfort!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 16 March 2020
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. – 1 John 4:18a
 
There’s always something to fear: The dark; getting lost; parents fighting; the school bully; like failing exams; losing our jobs; harm coming to our children; disease. Today the COVID19 virus makes us afraid. Whatever frightens us, the antidote is always the same: God. God is love. As light drives away darkness, God’s love casts out fear. With every breath we take God is filling us. Breathe in Jesus. Breathe out fear. Feel Jesus evicting every fear from you and filling you with confident, peaceful love. The cold dark of fear is no match for the warm light of Jesus’ love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 13 March 2020
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” – 2 Kings 5:13
 
Naaman, Israel’s famous and beloved commander contracts leprosy. Devastated by the disease he sends for Elisha the prophet. Elisha sends a servant to Naaman, who instructs the commander to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River. Furious that Elisha sent a surrogate, Naaman storms off. Naaman’s servants beg him to humble himself and by bathing in the Jordan River. Sometimes God’s healing touch comes only when we humble ourselves. Pride injures. Humility heals. As we navigate the COVID19 outbreak let’s humbly invite Jesus to heal our fears and anxieties.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 12 March 2020
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. – Philippians 3:7
 
Through Jesus, we enjoy God’s unconditional love, continuous forgiveness, providing care, and enduring friendship. We still believe having enough money for food, shelter, transportation and medical care is important. But we no longer define our worth, or the value of others by possessions, popularity, or personality. Rather we define worth by the quality of our relationships with God, ourselves and others. Every day Jesus reaches out to us in hundreds of ways to assure us that He loves us and is with us. Through our faith in Jesus we find our infinite worth and the priceless value of others.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 11 March 2020
37 The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. 38b [Solomon] had spent seven years building it. – 1 Kings 6:37, 38b
 
It takes seven years for the Israelites to build King Solomon’s temple. Seven years of strenuous labor. Building anything of worth takes time and disciplined commitment. We work to build relationships with partners, children, family and friends. Work is required to build homes that are havens of blessing and peace. Building satisfying careers takes determined work. Growing a relationship with Jesus that makes us people known for our joyous integrity takes work. Because Jesus fills us with His presence, we have all the strength we need to do the work required.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 10 March 2020
Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. – Philippians 3:1
 
Yesterday I drove my 1990 Cadillac DeVille. This big, beautiful, hood ornamented, light blue car with a deep blue velvet interior that feels like a living room sofa, is one of my favorite places to be. What are your happy places? What places, when you are in them, make you feel good? The Apostle Paul invites us to make God one of our happy places. “Rejoice in the Lord,” he says. Being inside the presence, love, and care of God fills us with joy. Each time we enter those places that make us happy, we are also entering into God’s presence. God is in every place we enter that makes us happy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 9 March 2020
The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. – 1 Kings 6:2
 
A temple is God’s dwelling place. The temple King Solomon builds is about ninety feet long, thirty feed wide and forty-five feet high. Because temples are dwelling places for God, temples can be anywhere. Where do you experience God’s presence? My den where I read the Bible, pray, and write Faith Builders is a temple. Another temple is the human body. The Apostle Paul assures us that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. When we spend time in the place where we experience God’s presence, we will also experience Jesus filling our minds and bodies with His Spirit.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 7 March 2020
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
 
God is never in a hurry. God never rushes us along. God is never too busy for us. The Lord is always be available, and never has somewhere else to be. Jesus always has time to enjoy our company, to hear our prayers, to hold us when we need His support, and to give us courage for difficult days. I love that God always has tie for us. Every day of our lives, Jesus is with us because He has plenty of time for us.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 6 March 2020
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. – Psalm 90:2
 
Time goes by too quickly. But God lives outside the pressures and confines of time. Because the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, He always has plenty of time. God has plenty of time for us, to hear us, to be with us and to love us because God has all eternity for us. God who has all the time in the universe for us, is the One who gives us everlasting life. Jesus treasures you and has all the time in the world for you.
 
Affectionately,
Ric

 

Thursday 5 March 2020

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. – Philippians 2:14-16a

 

We spend twelve to twenty-three years in school taking tests and being graded. We spend a lifetime taking tests and being graded by others. When things don’t go as planned and stress rises, others evaluate how well we respond to these life-tests. We cannot manufacture calm responses to life’s stress, but when we allow Jesus to fill us with His grace, peace strength, our grumbling goes away, and we grow in thoughtful flexibility. When family members, colleagues, neighbors, and friends experience Christ’s gracious, strong, peaceful demeanor through us, God’s love shines brightly in our lives.

 

Affectionately,

Ric
 
Wednesday 4 March 2020
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” – Philippians 2:14-15a
 
Doing some things without complaint is doable. When it’s convenient, when we are rested, when it’s scheduled, even challenging chores can be met head on with some hope and happiness. But doing everything without grumbling? Taking on tasks that are unscheduled inconveniences when we’re tired, and chipping away at these chores happily? All the time? This is impossible! Yes, it is. But faith in Jesus makes the impossible, possible. Faith in Jesus gives us the ability to take on every task with winsome, confident, uncomplaining joy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 3 March 2020
20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. – 1 Kings 4:20
 
When we have enough food and drink to enjoy, we are happy. Through good food we taste God’s loving goodness. Do the people in our church families, our communities, our neighborhoods have enough to eat? With our small acts of kindness we can help others to taste God’s love through good food. Our faith in Jesus leads us to look after the needs of others so that everyone has enough to eat and drink.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 2 March 2020
Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. – Psalm 144:12
 
On Monday 2 March 1992, Lisa delivered our oldest daughter Ashley. Holding this beautiful baby girl, I was amazed that we were parents. Twenty-eight 2 Marches later we are celebrating that sacred day on which God began teaching me that daughters are like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Pillars are filled with substance and strength. Pillars are filled with grace, beauty and the extraordinary ability to make the difficult (making mighty cathedrals stand) look easy. I praise God for Ashley and all women whose strength and substance make life in this world beautiful.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 29 February 2020
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:2
 
“Free Tide Detergent, Tap Here” declared the advertisement on the website from which I copied the Psalm 51:2. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if washing away our wrongdoings was as easy as washing our clothes? Actually, it’s easier. We don’t need detergent. All we need is Jesus. When we ask Jesus to forgive us, He washes away our sins. We are clean. It is this easy. Jesus’ forgiving love comes to us through His blood shed for us on the cross. Jesus did the difficult work of dying on the cross so that we could easily receive His cleansing forgiveness and a new beginning.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 28 February 2020
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. – Psalm 139:13
 
It is no accident that you exist. God planned for you to be alive in this world. Your biological parents may have been the ones through whom God worked to create you but be assured that at the center of your creation is God who loves you. God created you to love you, to enjoy your presence, and to give you the task – through your specific temperament, skills and abilities – of showing the world the love of Jesus, even as you enjoy Jesus’ love yourself.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 27 February 2020
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. – Psalm 90:1
 
Home is a place of shelter, safety and comfort. Home is a haven of blessing and peace. Home is the space in which wonderful memories are made. Home is the place where healing happens. Home is a place for rest and renewal. Home is the place where we are accepted, appreciated and loved. Home is a dwelling place. Our home is in God, who makes the place where we live, our home.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Ash Wednesday 26 February 2020
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. – Isaiah 61:1a, 3b
 
Ash Wednesday reminds us that we humans are frail, fallible and finite. Through the ashes of Ash Wednesday God assures us that Jesus brings light out of every dark time, healing from every painful experience, forgiveness from every transgression and everlasting life out of death. Jesus transforms our frailty, fallibility and death into strength, wisdom and everlasting life. Thanks be to God for Ash Wednesday!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 25 February 2020
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field. – Psalm 103:15
 
Sixteen years ago, Lisa delivered our youngest child, Jonathan, while his twelve-year-old sister eagerly awaited news of the birth from her friend’s home. Life goes by too quickly to squander a single moment. God calls us to live in the present tense – to be fully present in each moment. Longing for the past, fixating on the future, and living in the present on “auto pilot” are wastes of precious time. God calls us to live fully in the present so that we do not miss a moment of blessings Jesus has for us to enjoy.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 24 February 2020
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 
Jesus never uses His position for his own benefit. Jesus uses His God status to feed the hungry, heal the sick, befriend the lonely, forgive the sinner, and welcome the outcast. As our love for Jesus grows, we become more like Jesus – seeking to advance the good of others by working to feed the hungry, heal the sick, befriend the lonely, forgive the sinner and welcome the outcast. Sometimes these people are strangers. Often, they are family and friends. Always, Jesus is calling us to offer them His love.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 22 February 2020
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1
 
What do you fear? There are many things in our lives and in the world that chill our spirits with fear. These fears keep us awake at night, fill us with anxiety, and make us wonder how things can possibly be well again. When dark and foreboding fear grips your heart please remember that Jesus is our light in the darkness and our strength in the storm. You have nothing to fear.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 21 February 2020
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14
 
Waiting is in lines and at traffic lights is unpleasant. Waiting for vacation, for healing, for pay day isn’t fun. Waiting reminds us that our schedules are governed by powers and processes beyond our control. We can either wait with grace or allow the waiting to frustrate us. Waiting becomes bearable when we invite Jesus to be with us in our waiting. Jesus gives us strength to see our waiting as a process that strengthens our faith in God and grows our patience.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 20 February 2020
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; 2he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters – Psalm 23:1
 
What fills you with anxiety? I have always been terrified of tests. Convinced I did not know enough to do well, I spent the night and morning before an exam filed with anxiety. In these and other times when I feared I’d fail, I prayed Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd…” Through these words God calms our anxious spirits. Whenever anxiety floods your spirit, please pray Psalm 23:1-2. When we are stressed and anxious, God gathers us, cares for us and brings us peace.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 19 February 2020
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:16
 

We like to think that we can earn God’s love and our place in heaven. But we cannot earn God’s love heavenly home. This is wonderful news! Since we cannot earn God’s love or everlasting life, we cannot lose them. We enjoy our place in Christ’s heart and God’s kingdom because God loves us. God shows His love by mixing up the entire economy of “just desserts”. The first are last, the last are first, and all who place their trust in Jesus are in first place not because of what we deserve but because Jesus loves us.

 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 18 February 2020
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
 
There are many good gifts God gives us to enjoy: delicious food, a comfortable bed, satisfying work, good music, good friends and family. Taking delight in the Lord means enjoying God. Are you enjoying your relationship with God? We take delight in God when we enjoy talking with God, discovering who God is through the Bible and creation, and being with people who love God. As our enjoyment of God grows, God’s desires become our desires and God’s joy becomes our strength.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 17 February 2020
13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” – 2 Chronicles 5:13a
 
The dedication of the Temple King Solomon builds for the Lord is a musical extravaganza. The song at the center of the music declares, “God is good; His love endures forever.” God’s love endures forever. No person nor force can end God’s love. God’s love for us will never fails. God’s love for all creation ever ends. God’s love will never be defeated. No matter what happens in life, God’s love covers us, keeps us, renews us and restores us – forever!
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 15 February 2020
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. – Psalm 146:5
 
We are blessed when we choose to depend on God. Dependence on God frees us from the delusions that we can go it alone, that we can rely upon ourselves and that we are the source of our strength. Independence, self-reliance and inner strength always fail. Reliance on God’s help gives us hope. Jesus never fails us. When our help is the God of Jacob, we are hopeful. Such hope never fails us because God never fails.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 14 February 2020
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17
 
Jesus Christ is God’s great valentine gift. Better than a box of chocolates, better than roses, better than dinner out, God gives us Jesus. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love. Jesus comes into the world, inviting us to trust in Him, enjoy His love and receive the strength, peace, forgiveness, joy and everlasting life that He has for us. What wonderful gifts to receive from the Author of Love. Jesus loves you! 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 13 February 2020
26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!” – 1 Kings 3:26
 
The baby died in the night and the Mom was heartbroken and angry. Her friend’s newborn was fine, and hers was gone. Desperate for a child, she takes the breathing baby, leaving her lifeless child in his place. Convinced she has been wronged; the living baby’s Mom brings her friend before King Solomon, who hears their case and orders the living baby be split in two and given to both. Immediately the true Mom implores Solomon to give the baby to the other woman. The real Mom gives up her son so he can live. Faithful love does whatever it takes for the beloved. Even letting go. 
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 12 February 2020
10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; 11 the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. – Psalm 147:10-11
 
We admire people who are strong, powerful, and attractive. When looking for Israel’s next King, the prophet Samuel was impressed by Jesse’s tall, muscular and attractive son Eliab, thinking “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here…” (I Samuel 16:6). God says to Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at outward appearance. God looks at the heart.” It is not our physical strength, our attractiveness, or our power that makes us God’s beloved. True beauty is on the inside. Faith in Jesus is where true strength and attractiveness are found.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 11 February 2020
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
 
God names each of the trillions of stars. This is amazing! God’s name for each star shows the depth and power of God’s love for creation. Our love and understanding are limited. God’s mighty love and understanding are limitless. God who names each star, knows us by name and understands us. God understands us because God listens to our needs, feels our pain, celebrates our successes, hears our hopes, feels our fears and is attentive to our thoughts. When it comes to God, we will never be misunderstood.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 10 February 2020
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. – Psalm 8:3-5
 

Looking into God’s starry sky on a clear winter’s night fills me with grateful joy. God created each star and gives every one of them a special name. Millions of stars, and millions of people, named and known intimately by God. No star is too far away to be known by God. No person is too small to be known by God, who treasures each of us. The Vince Guaraldi (composer of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” music) tune “Star Song” is for me a celebration of God’s loving care for all creation – even and especially each of us. Take a moment to enjoy the sweet sound of God’s love.

 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Saturday 8 February 2020
27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:27
 
Worry is being anxious about things over which we have no control. Worrying robs us of our peace and distorts our perspective. When we worry, we are deciding that our problem is larger than the Lord. Is something worrying you today? Give your worry to Jesus and allow Jesus to give you peace and restore your perspective. If you are not worried about anything allow the Lord to bring to your mind someone who is worried about something. Offer that person to Jesus so that you can be working with Christ to deliver someone from the cold and dreary shadows of worry.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Friday 7 February 20202
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. – Psalm 119:105
 
One of God’s great gifts is the Bible. On the days when we feel like God is far away Psalm 139 assures us that there is nowhere you can go and be away from God’s loving presence. On the days when things are good or bad Philippians 1:6 promises that God who began a good work in us will complete it. On days when we are frightened, Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that God gives us hope and a good future. God’s words of the Bible are a lamp, lighting our way to and warming our spirits.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Thursday 6 February 2020
22 Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23
 
Compassion is sympathy that leads us to do merciful good for others and suffer with others. God’s sympathy for us never fails. Through Jesus and the good people in our lives God comes alongside us, does merciful good for us and shows us unconditional love through a willingness to suffer with us. This great love never fails us. As song writer Thomas Chisholm says, “Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand has provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Wednesday 5 February 2020
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens – Ecclesiastes 3:1
 
The work of faith involves discerning God’s plans for our lives and God’s timing for the plans He has for us. When it comes to God’s timing and God’s plans for us it is tempting to ignore, flee or fight against them because God’s plans and God’s timing can be uncomfortable. Giving into such temptations is never good. Choosing to trust Jesus’ plans and Jesus’ timing always brings us to a place of peace and a place of joy, even when we don’t fully understand the plan or agree with its timing.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Tuesday 4 February 2020

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” – Psalm 122:1

For as long as I can remember I have loved going to Church. Church is the special place where I connect with Jesus through my wonderful family of Faith. In the house of the Lord we share a common love for Jesus, a common commitment to welcoming all, and a common dedication to caring for people in the Church and in the world. Church family is a central part of life through which Jesus works to bring us joyous strength in Him and in each other. Church is not a perfect place, but the place where we go to grow in God’s perfect love. Our shared life together in Christ’s Faith Family is a gift and a treasure.
 
Affectionately,
Ric
 
Monday 3 February 2020
10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. – Proverbs 31:10
 
A wife of noble character is first and foremost a woman of noble character. Women of noble character are priceless blessings. Think of the women who live out the love, grace, strength, integrity and beauty of God. These women inspire us to be people of noble character who show the world God’s great beauty. God shows us Jesus’ love through women of noble character whom we are blessed to have in our lives. They are more precious than all the rubies in the world!
 
Affectionately,
Ric