Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Meditation July 29th

Spiritual Dryness - Henri Nouwen

Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don't experience God's presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.

Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God's presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don't, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Meditation for July 24th

Overcoming Our Mood Swings - Henri Nouwen

Are we condemned to be passive victims of our moods? Must we simply say: "I feel great today" or "I feel awful today," and require others to live with our moods?

Although it is very hard to control our moods, we can gradually overcome them by living a well-disciplined spiritual life. This can prevent us from acting out of our moods. We might not "feel" like getting up in the morning because we "feel" that life is not worth living, that nobody loves us, and that our work is boring. But if we get up anyhow, to spend some time reading the Gospels, praying the Psalms, and thanking God for a new day, our moods may lose their power over us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Meditation for July 22nd

What Worship Does - Max Lucado

“You who fear the LORD, praise Him!” Psalm 22:23 NKJV

Worship humbles the smug and lifts the deflated.

Worship adjusts us, lowering the chin of the haughty, straightening the back of the burdened.

Worship properly positions the worshiper. And oh how we need it! We walk through life so bent out of shape. Five-talent folks swaggering: “I bet God’s glad to have me.” Two-talent folks struggling: “I bet God’s sick of putting up with me.” So sold on ourselves that we think someone died and made us ruler. Or so down on ourselves that we think everyone died and just left us.

Treat both conditions with worship.

1 of 365 devotionals in Grace for the Moment, Volume II
Originally printed in Cure for the Common Life


How do you worship? How do you praise God? Is it just on Sundays? Is it just at your church?

Psalm 100:1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship is something between you and God. You don't have to worship him in a building, or just on Sunday mornings. Worship seems like such an old term... PRAISE is more like it.

Praise God for the day he has awoken you to.

Praise God for your family and friends that surround you.

Praise God for the music to dance to, the joys to laugh, the tears to cry.

Praise God for life, and death.

Praise God for hope, and fear.


So many people worship in different ways. I feel that I worship and praise God the most when I'm in my car singing to myself, or dancing around with my iPod. Some people meditate. Some people take quite walks. Others join friends at a coffee shop to talk about life.

If you worship or praise just one way, try something different. Break out of your shell and the box you have always been in. If you read quitely in the morning to give your thanks to God and have your God time. Invite a friend for Coffee/Tea/Cold Soda and just talk about life.

We need to refresh our faith, and praise and worship God for each day he gives us to live. Each day he gives us family and friends to be with. Each day for our life.

But, we must also praise him in our storms. When we worship with others, we make a connection that will not falter in our storms. They will be our stronghold with God to help us through the rough waves, that feel like we are going to capsize. We need those friends to be able to help bail out the water of our boat so we make it through, though we may be holding on for dear life. And we need to praise God in our storms, because when the storm finally retreats, and the storm is finally over....the Praise will be so much bigger. We may not understand the hard times or rough sails we stumble upon, but God will never falter.

So may a joyful noise, any noise to God! He didn't make us all perfect singers, but we find ways to worship. Explore new ways to voice your joy, praise, worship, adoration and love to God each day, outside the walls of the church, with friends and family, anyway you can!

~Courtney S-B~

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Meditation for July 21st

Crossing the Road for One Another - Henri Nouwen

Mark 12:28-31
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another. There is so much separation and segregation: between black people and white people, between gay people and straight people, between young people and old people, between sick people and healthy people, between prisoners and free people, between Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Greek Catholics and Latin Catholics.

There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the street once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might become neighbors.

I recieved this in an email via Henri Nouwen's site. I've read a handful of his books, and I have gotten a lot out of them. I suggest everyone to read "Life of the Beloved" especially if you are currently serving the church or another ministry, so therefore, everyone should read it.

As I read the above, all I could think of was Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, specifically the last part of it:

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

You can find his full speech here.

Have we come so far, to not be judging of other? MLK Jr made this speech in 1963, wanting equality for all. Though the barriers of segregation has come down, do you find your self segregating from others? The front porch sitting communities that have become a thing of the past, turning into back porch grilling, with privacy fencing. Though we may not be segregating people because of skin color, we still segregate the world from ourselves. How can we change our perceptive in life to find a way to commuicate with our neighbors and have a 'front porch sitting' relationship with them? "Love your neighbor as yourself."

I don't have the answer, not has God graced me with reason today. More of food for thought. I know I fall short as well in this manner. I've lived at my house since November, and just a few months back, I started talking to my neighbor, and I couldn't tell you what prohibited me. But I love saying hello to both he and his wife, and seeing them smile when I get a chance to chat. I don't know if its made a difference to them, but it does to me, to see them smile just chatting about life and family.

~Courtney S-B~

Friday, July 17, 2009

Upcoming Week

Hey All!

Don't forget:

Children's Summer Sunday School resumes this Sunday (July 19th).
Kids will be dismissed from the service after Children's time with Pastor Tom

Lectionary Readings for July 19th (Sunday):
2 Samuel 7:1-14a; Psalm 89:20-37; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Meditation for July 17th

In The Palm of God's Hand

Ephesians 6:10-12
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Psalm 37:23-24
If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

God does not like human weakness. God does not gloat when He sees human weakness. God does not feel joy when you are cast down in life. Beneath you, you have a mighty hand upholding you. When you are weak and things begin to crumble, look to God and see His mighty hand beneath you holding you up. God holds you up even though you do not know it. God holds you up in your moments of defeat. God holds you up when you grieve. God holds you up when you are hurt or slighted by others. God holds you up when you suffer a loss due to estrangement. When you think there is no way you can go on, God's hand so full of hope will give you strength. When you think there is no way to deal with the way things are, God's hand of power will hold you up, give you hope, and give you strength.



God will never let us fall, he will carry us when we need it. I'm sure most people have heard of the “Footprints” poem. If not you can find it here. I always think of this poem when I feel like I'm in a huge valley that I can't get out of. Knowing that when I feel like I can't move from the place I'm in, and I'm alone, those are times that God carries me onward and upward out of the valley.

I'm sure most people have faced Cancer in some way. Weither its you, yourself, or someone you know; everyone has it touch their life in some way. Some people take cancer as being a death sentence, while others find faith, or strengthen their faith. I would have to say I've always thought of people who have found themselves in a great illness where we still have found no exact cure for it, that they would loose their foot hold in life, until one of my friends, Nicole was diagnoised with Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor, or DSRCT. DSRCT is a very aggerssive cancer that usually occurs in multiple masses in the adomen areas. She was diagnoised at age 21, in October of 2005, she started Chemotherapy that following December.

Through all of this, she not only maintained, but grew in her faith, she changed mine. She had a blog online through it all, and the strength she showed during all of her treatment was just amazing, and changed me. She also had a journal on as well, where she stated: “Through this struggle, God has been really faithful to me and has given me peace about my situation since day one. All of the prayers and support from family and friends have been instrumental in my recovery and hopefully God will choose to heal me of this awful disease. I am trusting in and leaning on Jesus everyday, and as my wristband says, "Either Way, I Win!"”

No matter what she never faultered in her faith, and always knew, even though being sick from chemo, she was always in God's hands. Always looking for helping others, saying “If there is anything I can pray for, for you let me know, you all are praying for me.” Faith that never failed. God never let her down, and never let her fall. She raised money through her wristbands for the clinic she went to, to help others that didn't have that much. Always loving others, and caring for others.

Nicole passed away about 2 weeks before her 23rd birthday, after 14 some rounds of Chemotherpy, and multiple surgeries. 16 months after being diagnoised with DSRCT she passed away in February of 2007. I've known her since we were in 2nd grade. Our moms went to school togethr, and her dad worked at the grocery store my grandfather managed; and we were in Girl Scout together from 2nd grade on. I know that she was not in pain any longer, but she had given me my faith back, through her strength in her own faith, to fight and to not give up, because Either way, she was going to win. Beating the cancer, or being with God our Father. She never gave up on him, and I have learned that no matter the valley I may be in, large or small but God will never let us go. I have a bracelet of Nicole's that says “Either Way, I Win!” and her name on the other side, that I have worn every day since she gave it to me back in 2006, as a reminder that I can make it through the tough times, and that I am always held in God's hands.

I know it was a bit of a different turn in a devotion today, but its been on my heart for the last few days, and I didn't know how to write it down at the time. Just remember no matter what, He is always holding on to you, even when you feel like your faith is so small.

~Courtney S-B~

Have a great Friday! Again if you have a story/devotion/meditation to share, shoot me an email at and I'll get it posted for the meditation of the day here on the blog. Or pictures from around the church or events, and I'll get those up too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meditation for July 16th

No Limit to His Love (from Max Lucado)

"This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us." I John 3:16

It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough, and sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough.

But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you. When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know he died loving you.

But isn’t there a limit? Surely there has to be an end to this love. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But David the adulterer never found it. Paul the murderer never found it. Peter the liar never found it. When it came to life, they hit bottom. But when it came to God’s love, they never did.

1 of 365 devotionals in Grace for the Moment, Volume II
Originally printed in He Choose the Nails



Have you ever felt like no one in the world understands you? No one sees who you are? Or that you're alone in the world?

If you've ever experienced moving to a new city, a new job or a new school where you know absolutely no body, then I'm sure you've been there. Everyone has their own 'groups', they know the ins and outs of daily life, where ever you are going into (job, city, school, etc.). It's hard to get to know people sometimes because you don't want to share too much, you don't want to share too little, and you definitely don't want to say the 'wrong' things and possibly upset someone.

Acceptance. It's that what we are looking for? Trying to make sure we fit in, and making sure that people like us. No matter what, we are accepted in God's love. We are not expected to be perfect. And we all know, no matter how perfect you may try to be, we all have our faults.

No matter how many times we meet new people, we move to new places or change jobs every time we are trying to 'fit in' and just be accepted. Sometimes its welcoming and other times you feel as though people might 'judge' you because of your life. You might be divorced, never married, single with kids, widowed, too young, too old, too bold, too quite, too social, and so on.

God does not label us, so why should be label others. God has said, it is not our place to judge others. We should be welcoming to others at work, at school, any place you meet people, especially in the church. We as a church need to love others, as God loves us. As God accepts us, and not exclude others because of differences, no matter how large or small. We are ONE church, we are all loved by ONE God, the same God.

Reach out to someone today, in this coming week and days or weeks ahead. Get to know someone you may not know, or you may not know that well. We should unite as a church to love all of God's children, so others who feel like they are 'alone in this world' don't feel alone, because all they want to be is accepted, and know that they are NEVER alone.

~Courtney S-B~