Change, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, faith, Love, Matthew, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), The difficulty of change, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for November 2, 2017

Change is in the air. Literally.

Change is in the air, literally. The buds of Spring gave way to the green leaves of Summer. It is now the season of the red, yellow, and orange leaves of Fall. Yes, change is in the air. Mornings are crisper and days grow shorter, despite our best efforts of grudgingly giving up “Daylight Savings Time.”

Change is a part of life. People enter and leave our lives. Children are born and grow up and begin families of their own. We are changing, too, as we gain new experiences and hopefully, greater wisdom.

Four-star General Eric Shineski once said, “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” The saddest thing in life is the inability to change, especially in the face of new circumstances and information. Survival does not belong to strongest but to the most adaptable.

Jesus once observed that we are so good at discerning the seasons but so bad at discerning the “new thing” that God is doing in our midst. (Matthew 16:2) We continually try to put new wine into old wineskins. (Matthew 9:14-17, et al) We resist change, God’s new thing. 

The challenge for those who take Jesus seriously is to be open to God’s movement in this world. The movement toward justice, equality, respect, humility and generosity. All of these things are elements of the thing we call Love. “Others will know that you are my disciples,” Jesus said to The Twelve on His last night with, “by seeing how you love one another.” (John 13:35)

May the World see a glimpse of grace in our love. 

Lord, let me not be afraid of change but see it as a part of the “new thing” that you are doing. Use me as You will to do the work of the Kingdy every day of my life. Amen. 

Congregationalist, devotion, faith, Forgiveness, Love, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 24, 2017

I got lost today. After visiting Glasgow University on the Weat End of the city I took a few wrong turns while taking pictures and suddenly realized that I didn’t know where I was. I pulled out my very scanty “tourist” map and tried to find my “bearings”. I was at the bottom of a large hill in what appeared to be a warehouse district. Looking around, I saw a familiar name on a directional sign and began to follow the directions. Still, nothing looked familiar. To make matters worse, what was a light sprinkle of rain became a steady shower. I pulled the hood of my jacket over my head and soon saw drops of rain falling off of the hood I front of me!

On the upper part of the hill, though, I looked to my right and saw a familiar site; the Sandyford Henderson Memorial Church of Scotland, the very place that I worshipped only a couple of days before! It was a welcomed sight! I finally knew exactly where I was and what I had to do next!


There are times in all of our lives when we “lose our way”. We take a wrong turn, make a bad decision and suddenly wonder to ourselves, “How in the world did I get here!” 

When the Church is at its best it is a collection of people who have decided to take Jesus seriously. They encourage one another in both life and individual faith journeys. At its best the church is not a place of judgement but grace, not a place of “have to’s” but “get to’s”. It is a place of encouragement and love and acceptance enabling us to grow more and more into the image of Christ.

Such a place, such a church, is a hint of the Kingdom of God and the very embodiment of a glimpse of grace.

Lord, when I stumble and lose my way, help me find a faith community that will help me get my “bearings” again.  And, Lord, help me be a mirror reflecting Your life-changing love seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Amen. 

Christian, devotion, faith, Love, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 23, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 21: 5-19

Text: (Jesus said to the disciples as they admired the beauty and permanence of the Temple) “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” (v. 6)

I slipped though a cautionary gate and step inside the old church. The windows were broken. The pews and chancel furniture were gone. Weather and neglect allowed to plaster and paint fall from the walls. It was a shell of its former glory, yet I could sense that it was a holy place, sanctified through years of prayer and sacrament.  And still, it would soon be gone.

Jesus words to the disciples reflected a reality that would ultimately contribute to His crucifixion. The things of this world, even the biggest and strongest and most beautiful, do not last forever. Eventually everything that we hold on so tightly in life will be in an estate sale or carried out with the trash. The grandest of monuments eventually weather and are forgotten before passing into dust.

So what is forever? Love. Only God’s love is eternal. Only the love that we give and receive live into eternity. So tell someone that you love them. Cut someone a little slack. Forgive the one who hurt you. Do not let yourself be captive to the Past or drawn to a Future that is not yet. Live in this Moment for this is the only true moment that we have. Maybe that is why the Present is precious.

Lord, this is a day that You have made. Let me be glad and rejoice in it. Teach me to love and to forgive and celebrate the present moment. And when this day draws to a close, grant to me a restful sleep. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Humble Humility, Love, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for June 9, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Luke 18: 9-14

Text: …for all who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (v. 14b)

When I was little my mother used to tell me, “If has to brag on themselves they must not be very good.”  That insight has served me well over the years acting as a “governor” in not thinking of myself as better than someone else. Now, there are degrees of humility from “false humility” on one end of the scale to the “Eeyore Syndrome” on the other.* I like to think that over the years I developed a healthy sense of humility.

Today’s reading is introduced by the writer as a parable directed toward those who thought of themselves as being righteous and regarded others with contempt. They were really “self-righteous”. This isn’t the only time Jesus broached this subject. On a different occasion he said that when we are invited to a banquet that we should not presume that our seat is at the head table. We should take the lowest seat until we are moved to another.  In one of his letters the apostle Paul wrote that when he gave up his “childish” ways he could better understand Faith, Hope and Love. And of the three, Love was the greatest.**

I often say that there is no one more humble than a dedicated follower of Jesus because we know how much we have been forgiven and how generous God truly is.

Lord God, throughout this day give me a humble heart; a heart that neither judges others nor looks down upon them as anything less than another one of Your precious children. Amen.


*The Eeyore Syndrome” is something I made up as I read Winnie the Pooh books to my daughters. Eeyore was a “pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey” creature who had such low self-esteem that all he would eat was thistles–the plants that no one else wanted to eat.

**I Corinthians 13: 11-13

Christian, devotion, Love, Luke, Gospel of, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 29, 2017

For Devotional Reading from the Daily Lectionary: Luke 9: 51-62

Text: When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He (Jesus) turned and rebuked them.” (Vss. 54, 55)

I can totally understand James’ and John’s passion in the story. Though they shared a common ancestry there were long and deep divisions between the Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day. James and John felt as if the Samaritan village had “dissed” Jesus. To them their question was a matter of honor. But Jesus would have nothing of it.

His Kingdom, God’s Kingdom was not like other kingdoms. It was not territorial. It did not have borders. It was truly color-blind.  People would not be brought under the reign of this Kingdom by force or threat. No, every knee would bow in response to a stronger force, a force that changes the heart. Love.

Love you enemies. If you enemy is thirsty, give him a drink. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray for those who hate you. Jesus was a radical calling others to join Him in this radical Kingdom.

Jesus knew that force of arms only brings a pseudo-submission. Resentment and revenge fester deep in the heart. But Love, well that is a different force. It softens the heart and brings about a real and lasting submission.

Love is not always soft. It may be hard because it looks out for the greater good. It equips for sustainability. You may be hated because you see a bigger picture. But in the end, Love is the only thing that truly wins.

Lord, soften my heart and teach me how to love those who are the hardest for me to love. Amen

Christian, devotion, faith, Love, Matthew, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for May 25 2017

For Devotional Reading: Matthew 28: 16-20

Text: Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you until the end of the age.” (vss. 18-20)

When I first arrived at the church I am now serving, their governing Board said, “Now that  you’re here, we need to write a ‘mission statement’.”

I’ve been through this exercise in futility before.  All statements written by a committee are nothing more than gibberish reduced to its lowest common denominator! It gives the illusion of doing something when, in reality, after they are written they are generally put on a shelf and forgotten.

I replied, “Actually, we don’t. Jesus already gave us our ‘mission statement’. It’s very simple. It’s easy to remember. It’s only four words; ‘Go and make disciples.’ And, He even told us how to do it; baptize and teach ‘Love’. This is the ‘mission statement’ of every group of Jesus followers.”

So, those simple four words became our “mission statement”; Go and make disciples.

Everything that we do is educative; our personal decisions as well as our corporate decisions; how we treat others, how we spend our money. Someone is always watching and consciously or unconsciously judging. As Jesus followers we need to be conscientious in not only loving one another but also in loving the least, the last and the lost of God’s children.

We are called to be bold in our love for one another and those considered “different” by world. Each one of us have been created in God’s Divine Image.  We can be courageous in our love, even to the point of risking it all for the sake of God’s Kingdom because in today’s text the Risen Lord promises to be with us until the end of time. There is no greater love than this.

Lord, make me bold as I fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission today, tomorrow and all of my days. Remove fear and intimidation from my heart. Shape me day by day, more and more into the holy image of Christ. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Love, Prayer, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for May 6 2017

Devotional text: 3rd Letter of John: 1-15

Text: Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. (v. 11)

While cooling down from a recent run, a preschool aged boy pointed a stick at me an said in a stern adult-like voice, “Don’t you do that, young man!” I simply smiled and waved. Earlier in the day, at the preschool in the church I serve, I overheard a little girl telling her friends a story. With her left hand on a hip thrust to the left and pointing her finger, she said, “Well, let me tell you …” I smiled and wondered who she was imitating.

The apostle Paul once said that we should imitate him in as much as he imitates Jesus. (I Corinthians 11:1) Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it is how we learn to be who we are, for better or for worse.

I am intrigued by John’s last phrase in today’s text: whoever does evil has not seen God. In his first letter John wrote that God is love and whoever lives (abides–takes up dwelling) in love, lives in God and God lives in him. (I John 4:16). Have “evil-doers” simply not experienced God-like unconditional love? Has the evil of the world so broken them that they find it difficult to trust, let alone love? Are there not enough Jesus followers sharing the love that God first gave to us?

I have to think about that. Maybe I’d better do a better job at loving. Then, maybe, I’d be a better glimpse of grace. How about you?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. Let me be worthy of imitation so that you may be glorified. (This prayer is a modification and abbreviation of a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.)













Christian, faith, I John, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for May 3, 2017

Devotional Reading: I John 5: 1-12

Text: For the love of God is this, that we obey His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (v.3)

Love is not an emotion or a feeling. Emotion and feeling are passion. Love is a decision; a willful decision that calls us to do a thing even when we do not feel like doing it. I remember a particularly low point in my life and reading Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. At some point in the book he said that if we do the loving thing even when we do not feel like it, we will begin to feel  loving. Feeling follows action, or, As James Allen wrote in his classic book As a Man Thinketh:  “As a man thinketh so he becometh.”

Love is hard. It is not doing the easy thing or, necessarily, the thing that the person wants you to do. It is doing the right thing. It means that you may have to say “No.” Love means being misunderstood or being unappreciated. It means that you do not always get the credit you deserve or want. It means that at times you will be misunderstood or even hated. But you do the loving thing anyway.

Jesus gave only one commandment in His life–that His disciples love one another as He loved them. It would be by this that others would know who He was and is.  His Way of love is not easy but neither is it burdensome. It is Truth and Life, real Life.

I believe that Love takes wisdom and thought and commitment. It is a decision, an action and a way of being. It is the only way to have a sense of fulfillment and purpose for it is the path to living a meaningful life.

Lord, give me the wisdom and courage to love with Your love. Amen.*

*You may also want to refer to a prayer attributed to the late Mother Teresa.


Christian, devotion, faith, Fear, Forgiveness, I John, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotion for May 2, 2017

Devotional Reading: I John4: 7-21

Text; No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us. (v. 12)

I don’t read a lot of poetry but today’s devotional reading drew me to two poems in Gordon and Gladis DePree’s book of poetry, Faces of God (Westminster Press, c. 1974).

Recognizing the stranger/ As a face of God/ Takes so much of the suspicion and hostility/ Out of Life./ Perhaps I have never met you before…/But if I look at you with an open face,/ Accepting you as a valid person,/ With no need to judge/ Whether you conform to my standards or not,/ Will you really seem to be a stranger?/ Or will we have the vague feeling/ That we must have met somewhere before?’

Somehow viewing the stranger as a face of God/ Changes the other as well as me./ For if I have seen God in the other,/ How can he see less in himself?


When I think of myself/ And you/ As faces of God,/ Praying seems different …/ Should I still close my eyes/ And pray to somewhere,/ Or should we open our eyes/ And look at each other,/ Aware of our mutual life/ And the source of life beyond us both?

What would happen if we prayed about a problem,/ Looking at each other?/ If we prayed about a worry,/ Looking at each other?/ If we prayed about an anger,/ Looking at each other?

It is not as though we pray to each other,/ But how could I look into your face,/ A face of God,/ And be a hypocrite?

When the Old Testament patriarch, Jacob, decided that he had to return home and face the brother he wronged, he was afraid. But for once in his life he decided to trust the God’s Providential Care. He had a fitful night’s sleep, wrestling with a Stranger on the banks if the Jabok River.

The next day, when he met his brother Esau he was surprised to be met not with a sword but with unconditional love. Looking into Esau’s face he said, “To see your face is like seeing the Face of God.” (Genesis 33:10)

Our challenge today, and every day, is to see the face of God in the other for each one of us have been created in the Divine Image. When we learn to love the other, we learn what God’s love for us really is.

Lord, open my eyes that I may see Your reflection in everyone that I meet, even in the faces of those I wish to avoid. Amen.

Christian, Country and Western, devotion, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), Temptation, Temptations of Jesus, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Devotional for April 29, 2017

Devotional Reading: Luke 4:1-13

Text: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan (His baptism) and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness  … (vs. 1)

I have always found it fascinating that Jesus was led into the wilderness of temptation by the same Spirit that descended upon Him at His baptism. My wife once pointed out to me that we are never tempted by those things that we do not desire. The temptations of Jesus are somewhat universal; satisfaction, fame, power.

There is a fine line distinction between temptation and testing, though we often translate and use them interchangeably. As with everything in life, context is important.

Temptation’s intention is to make someone succumb. Testing’s intention is to clarify. A more accurate understanding of Jesus’ experience would be that of testing. His wilderness experience clarified His ministry and purpose. It reaffirmed Mary’s “Magnificat” found earlier in this gospel. Jesus’ Kingdom was not going to be like the world’s kingdoms. His was based on agape Love; a love that respects the other, cares for the other even at our own expense, and sees in the other the face of God.

An old country and western song says that if you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything. Jesus knew what He stood for. He challenged those who would take Him seriously to stand with Him.

Lord, give me clarity of purpose and the will to follow in the Way of Jesus. Amen.