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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 22, 2017

The winds in Glasgow, Scotland today have been particularly blustery, whipping flags and pushing pedestrians. While coming back from worship, suddenly a strong gust shot up the street stripping the hood of my jacket from my head and then just as abruptly turning around and tossing the hood back where it was! 

In the afternoon, as I read a book I looked out a picture window standing before me. I watched the ever-changing blue-gray clouds of October dance across the sky.  

Jesus once said  that the Holy Spirit is a lot like the wind. We can hear the sound of and even feel it. One moment it can buffer our progress, and the next moment it can push us forward as if to say, “Hurry! Onward!” 

I think that deep down many of us don’t trust the Holy Spirit. We are afraid of it. We are afraid of it because it is so wild, untamable, and free. Yet, it calls to us throughout all of the seasons of life; in the cool winds of spring, the warm lazy winds of summer, the changing winds of fall and the frigid winds of winter. 

If we can but go with this wind in all of our seasons, we can become a glimpse of grace.

Lord God, give me the courage to go where the wind of Your Spirit will lead me. Let me be not afraid. Amen.

Cemeteries, Christian, Congregationalist, devotion, Luke, Gospel of, Mark, Matthew, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 21, 2017

As I walked through a late 17th-early 18th century cemetery in Scotland I was struck by the beauty of the walled family plots. This one is that of a Maclaren, who completed this life’s journey in 1817.  To the left of the entrance there is a notation that his four year old son, Peter, is buried beside him. A terrible loss for any parent. 

I stepped into the sacred space and discovered to the left “the home” of a person who has not “home.l As I stared at my discovery  I was reminded of the Gadarene demoniac, shunned and feared by his community and forced to live  among the tombs. In the story Jesus healed the man, “clothed him in his right mind” is the phrase that is used. 

I do not pretend to know why someone took up residence among the tombs. It could be because of a number of reasons; illness, bad luck, choice or because he had nowhere else to go. I do know, though, that someone once said that the greatness of a people is seen in how they treat those who at the dawn of life, their children; those in the twilight of life, their elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, their sick, their needy, their disadvantaged, and their disabled. 

Jesus “healed” the demoniac. He restored the man to the community that ostracized him. He gave him a “new” life. Can those of us who take Jesus seriously do any less? Isn’t that what we are called to do? After all, aren’t we supposed to be “the Body of Christ”’on earth? Isn’t that what it means to be a glimpse of grace?

Lord, let me not settle for easy answers or simply look away from the pain of the world. You gave me a mind to use and resources to be a steward over; show me how to do both, to Your glory. Amen. 

Christian, devotion, Mark, Prayer, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 11, 2017




Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 9: 14-2

Text: (Jesus) said to (the disciples), “This kind can come out only through prayer.” (v. 29)

“If all else fails, pray.” Or, “I’ve tried everything else, all I can do now is pray.” Prayer as a last resort.

Several years ago I read a little known book by Jonathan Bathke entitled Jesus>Religion. A line in that book was revelatory to me.  We rarely bother to consider whether or not our plans are God’s plans. Too often we ask God to bless our plans rather than asking God what He wants us to do.

Maybe the place to start is not with plans but with prayer. The story in Mark 9 is a difficult one. It seems that the disciples pulled every trick out of their sleeves, did everything they ever saw Jesus do, except one thing. Pray.

Some things are only possible through prayer. Every member of the 12-step recovery group knows this. Everyone who lives in extreme poverty knows this. Everyone who suffers great loss knows this. It’s just that most of us just don’t believe it.

A few weeks ago, after over three decades of being a minister, I realized that I don’t really know how to pray. So, I am asking God to teach me. And I am learning, one step at a time.

Lord, teach us to pray. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Fear, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 9, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 8: 34-9:1

Text: For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and the gospel, will save it. (v. 35)

My biggest regrets in life is when I played it safe; I was afraid to take a chance. Too often I was afraid, to be painfully honest. Opportunities were lost because of my fear. I cannot help but to wonder if God was disappointed in me, not in a bad sort of way, but in the way a parent feels for their child when they don’t apply themselves. It’s a disappointment born of sadness.

I think that while God understood my fears and even forgave me, I also think that God wished that I would have trusted Him more. My lack of trust diminished His glory.

I don’t know where I would have been if I had trusted more. I still struggle trusting God but I am getting better at it.

If you have trouble trusting God with your future, I will pray for you…for all who are fellow strugglers in the journey.

Lord God, give me a discerning heart and the courage needed to take Jesus seriously, for it is only in taking Him seriously that we will find Your purpose in our lives. Amen.



Christian, devotion, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 8, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 8: 22-33

Test: Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him from the village. Then he put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands upon him and asked, “Can you see anything?” The man looked up ad said, “I can see people, but they look like trees.” (v. 23)

It takes more than one touch for us to “see”. Someone struggling with an addiction must fall time and time again before they “see” that they need help. A person goes from one bad relationship to another before they “see” that others cannot make them happy; happiness is an “inside job.” Another goes from job to job before they find a career. It takes more than one touch for us to “see”.

It is true for followers of Jesus. More than one person touched us in our lives before we “see” that we must take Jesus seriously if our life is to have meaning and purpose. The touches may have come from a mother or father, grandparent, teacher, coach, colleague, or complete stranger. But sooner or later Jesus comes into full view. Sooner or later this world comes into full view, and we begin to see it from God’s perspective.

When this happens, we want to do something, not so much for ourselves but for others for Jesus followers have been saved to serve.

Lord, let me see more clearly. Give me a servant’s sight and a servant’s heart. Use me as one of the “eye-opening” touches that restores sight to the “blind” of this world. Amen.

Christian, devotion, faith, Fear, Feeding of 5000, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 5, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 8: 1-10

Text: They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. (v. 8)

I once hired a personal trainer to help me regain some of the strength of my younger days. He wasn’t, what I call, a “frog man” with muscles not found in nature or pictured in the back of the comic books of my childhood. He looked like a normal everyday kind of guy with no visible body fat. Our workouts were an hour, and he would encourage as well as challenge me. When I thought I could do no more, he’d ask me to do just one more. Lo and behold, I always managed to do one more!

I thought of him after reading today’s gospel story. Individual followers of Jesus, as well as groups of us, do not know how much we can really do if push comes to shove. Often we are satisfied with “good enough” instead of doing just one more.

The disciples did not know how they were going to feed the 5000. Jesus asked them to bring their resources to Him. He blessed it before giving it back to them.  “Okay, let’s see what we can do.” They did far more than they ever imagined; as a matter of fact, they had left-overs.

I am reminded of what the Risen Lord said to Paul; “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9) When we say, “There’s not enough”, God says, “Yes, there is.” When we say, “I’m not enough,” God says, “Yes you are!”

Lord, Let me not see scarcity but plenty. Let me not be afraid to try even if I fail. Let me never think that I am not enough, because You know that I am. Amen.

Christian, devotion, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 4, 2017

Devotional Reading: Mark 7: 24-37

Text: (Jesus) said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered  Him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (vss. 27 & 28)

There are a lot of things in life I do not understand. Cancer, for example. It hits the youngest and oldest, good and the bad alike. That seems most unfair. I don’t understand it.

It you read today’s devotional reading you are no doubt troubled by the exchange between Jesus and the woman asking Him to free her daughter from a demon. The majority of commentaries that I read say that Mark is the first gospel written and the most unedited. Other gospels may “clean it up” a bit but that doesn’t change the troubling nature of the story. If there is any good news to be had, it is that Jesus I exorcize the child’s demon. But, it’s still troubling, and I still don’t understand. I doubt I ever will, this side of the grave.

Yet, I don’t need to understand the story or even much of life in order to be faithful. I know that God is good, that God is love, and that perfect love casts out fear. I know that God does not need my understanding to redeem the broken. I know that God can bring “possible” out of the “impossible”. As the old gospel hymn declared, God can make a way out of no way.

Lord, thank You for not depending upon my small mind to understand Your ways. Bless my questioning and my doubting. Redeem my brokenness and the brokenness of this world. Amen.


Christian, devotion, Mark, Mustard seed, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 3, 2017

Devotional Reading: Mark 7: 1-23

Text: ‘This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.’ (Jesus quoting the prophet Isaiah v. 6b)

When I was a kid the “big issue” in the church my family attended was whether or not women could wear slacks in the sanctuary! Oh my! Over the years the “big issue” has changed. Are blue jeans acceptable? How about shorts? How short can shorts be before they are too short? What about coffee or tea? I really don’t know the answer to any of those questions but I’ve lived in enough different places to know that such questions are a reflection of local custom, culture and upbringing. As a minister I’m just happy that they’re in worship!

Jesus quoted the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in response to criticism that His disciples were not keeping the traditions of the elders. Jesus was respectful of the elders and kept the traditions Himself, but He also knew that in Him God was doing “a new thing.” Some traditions had to be put to rest for they served their time.

I think that God is still doing a new thing. There have been many books recently written about this. I don’t know exactly what God is doing but I trust God. In the meantime I just have to sow the mustard seeds of God’s love every day.

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? Help me answer honestly, O Lord. Amen. (based on the writings of Henri Nouwen)


Christian, Feeding of 5000, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for August 1, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: (Mark 6: 30-46)

Text: “You give them something to eat.”  (v. 37)

“You know, somebody really ought to do something about that!”

“I hope that someone steps up and takes care of that!”

“I just hope that someone takes responsibility and fixes that!”

You’ve probably heard those expressions and may have even said all or one of them yourself. I know that I have.

Today’s lesson is the “feeding of the 5000”, the only “miracle” that appears in all four of the New Testament gospels. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of feeding so many people the disciples ask Jesus to them them away–to send them home–or to at least do something about it! And He does, but what He does may surprise you!

In the movie Bruce Almighty the main character thinks that he can do a better job at being God than God can. So God gives Bruce the reins and watches him make a mess of everything. Suddenly Bruce realizes that being God is hard and complicated and simply too much. A humbler Bruce tells God that he gives up.

“You know what your problem is, Bruce? You wanted a miracle. Well, Bruce, you be the miracle.”*

Jesus turned the tables on the disciples. He told them to feed the 5000. I believe that with all of the hurt and brokenness in the world, Jesus still calls those who would take Him seriously to do something about it. But how? It’s really quite simple and oh, so hard.

Inventory your resources, all of them. The truth of the matter is that we have more than we give ourselves credit for having. Second, dedicate our resources to Him. Then, when Jesus gives them back to you, use them to do the work you are called to do.

You be the miracle.

Lord, give me insight and courage; insight to see my assets and courage to follow You. Amen.

*A summary of the dialogue for brevity.

Christian, devotion, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 31, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 6: 14-29

Text: When Herod heard it (Jesus’ ministry and miracles) he said, “John whom I beheaded has come back from the dead!” (v. 16)

Sometimes our Past haunts us. We do something that we are ashamed of doing or something happens to us, and we just cannot shake its grip upon us. This is true of me and, I am sure, it is true of you, too.

Herod was fascinated by the one called John the Baptizer. He found his message both enchanting and challenging. He had a love-hate relationship with John for John was not afraid to speak truth to power.

One night Herod threw a party that had veiled dancing women. One of the veiled women was his step-daughter. So taken by her was he drunken state that he promised her anything in the kingdom. The daughter asked her mother what she should ask for. “The head of John the Baptizer on a platter”, her mother replied. You see, John had offended Herod’s wife, who was also his sister-in-law, and she wanted his death more than anything else in the world. Not wanting to lose face in front of all of his guests, Herod ordered the death of John, a decision that immediately regretted and one that haunted him to his dying day.

Yes, sometimes our decisions, indiscretions and secrets so carefully locked away in the Past continue to haunt us. There is only One Person who can free us from our Past; Jesus–the truest and purest revelation of the Eternal God whose very nature is Love itself. Only this Eternal Love can unlock the chains that bind us. Only a Holy Love can set up free.

In the words of that ancient prophet Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall become bright as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be white of wool.”

Lord, free me from the Past that haunts me. Removing those chains that bind me, lead me into the Future that fulfills Your Purpose for my life. Amen.