Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for December 5, 201

Daily Reading: Matthew 21: 12-22

Text: The blind and the lame came to him, and he cured them. (v. 14)

Since the mid-1990s I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at this time of year. And each year I see something new in the old tale. Today’s reading from Matthew’s gospel caused me to pause and consider one scene in particular.

It occurred during the visit of the Spectre or Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge watched as his underpaid clerk Bob Catchit came home to a place of the love that old Scrooge longed to have. Cratchit softly told his wife something Tiny Tim said on the way home from Christmas Day worship.

“Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself,” Cratchit whispered, “and he thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” A glimpse of Grace.

Glimpses of grace are seen whenever the lame walk and the blind see. It is witnessed whenever lifeless tradition is swept out of the lives of the oppressed and the forgotten. It is heard whenever we listen to the voice of the quiet who often see this world more clearly than we do. Glimpses of Grace are reflected in the lives of those who take the Child named Jesus seriously.

Lord, let me see Your Presence in the presence of those who the rest of the world do es not see. Amen.




Glimpses of Grace Devotion for November 28, 2017

Many serious followers of Jesus are entering a spiritual time called Advent. It is a season of serious soul-searching, spiritual reflection. But it is also a time of fun and celebration as we prepare for Christmas.

One of the traditions of my family is something called the “Advent Wreath.” My wife made one of cloth many years ago, and it has been used in our household for as long as I can remember. But this year we have a new Advent wreath to mark off the days before Christmas. It is a handmade wreath constructed by our oldest granddaughter. She is only 10 years old. She used her own money to buy buttons, yarn and an assortment of candy to use on the wreath. With an embroidery hoop and a piece of cloth she drew a Christmas tree, sewed on buttons, and tied candy to the wreath’s buttons with strands of yarn. I can only imagine the time that she spent on the project. When she gave it to us at Thanksgiving I saw not only a granddaughter’s work of art but the embodiment of pure Love.

I suspect that that is really what Advent is about; opening ourselves to receive a Holy Love; a Love so great that the Creator of All that Was and Is and Will be became one of us and with us, a visible manifestation of an invisible holy truth. The heart of this season is not condemnation but salvation. As John wrote in the gospel that bears his name, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him. (3:17)

Each morning I will be able to take a piece of candy from the wreath and be reminded of the sweetest love of all; a forgiving, redeeming, restoring holy love. And that is a glimpse of grace.

Lord God, in this time of Advent preparation let me be ever thankful for your love that will not let me go. Amen.


Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for November 14,2017

” Whenever I come into this place I feel the Presence of God,” someone said to me a few years ago as she walked to a yoga class. Often she would quietly sit in the sanctuary after class.

We need a sense of Awe in our lives. Especially in times like now. We need a sense of the Holy to keep us grounded, to remind us that we are the creature not the Creator.

Sometimes this sense of the Holy, this sense of Awe comes at seemingly serendipitous times like the first time a new parent feels the breath of their child upon the cheek or when we see a loved one pass peacefully from this Existence into the next. One moment they are here and the next, they are somewhere where we have yet to go. Such moments are a glimpse of grace if only we had the eyes to see.

Lord, I am surrounded by Your grace. Awaken me to a sense of Wonder and Awe so that I can see the Holy in my midst. Amen.


Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for November 11, 2017

The Church is like a lighthouse shining in the dark. 

257 steps from ground to balcony. This is equivalent to climbing a 12 story building. The guidebooks say that it is a strenuous climb. 

I’m talking about the Cape Hatteras lighthouse on the outer banks of North Carolina. A few years ago I climbed to the balcony of the lighthouse. The view was amazing. There is a picture of the lighthouse, painted by an aunt, hanging above the desk in my office. I have it there to remind me what it means to be a group of people who decide to take Jesus seriously, to encourage each other to live Another way, the Jesus Way. 

Lighthouses warn ships of danger in the night. Jesus called those who would walk in His Way–the way of Truth and Life–to be a light to the world warning people of the dangers inherent in the world’s values. He never called His followers to be comfortable in their homes, church buildings or country clubs.  

Jesus continuously challenges us to go where He went and to touch those whom He touched. We “give themselves away” and in order to find “our very selves”. 

Only the Church is called the Body of Christ here on earth. When we live into our call we become tiny glimpses of Grace. 

Lord, make me Your instrument. Send me where You will to do what You would have me do. May I find my true self in serving You. Amen. 


Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 30, 2017

The Gift of FriendshipI spent the morning having coffee with two long time friends. Many people would say that I wasted my morning because I didn’t get anything tangible accomplished. But they would be wrong. The time I spent with my friends refreshed my soul. I left our time together the better for it.

You can be yourself with old friends. You don’t have to put on airs or pretend to be someone you’re not. Friends don’t judge you.  They may question and prod and be disappointed, but they won’t judge. They know your warts and still want to spend time with you. You know their’s, too. 

Friendships are one of God’s greatest gifts. Examples of great friendships are scattered throughout Christian Scripture. David and Jonathan come most readily to mind. In the gospel of John Jesus talked about how a friend will lay down their life for another. And then he added, “and you (the disciples) are my friends.

Friendships are truly a glimpse of Devine grace. 

Lord God, thank You for the gifts of friendship and fellowship. Grant that I may be a true friend to those whom You bring into my life. Amen


Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 11, 2017

The Lost has been found!

I doubt that there was rejoicing in heaven, but there was rejoicing in my heart! All that being said, those who know me best may think that I seem to only think 5 minutes ahead but in reality I always have a Plan B, C, D and, at times, even an E in the back of my head. I don’t know why my brain works this way. Maybe this hardwiring was set when I was a toddler. A “family systems” approach would seem to say this. Maybe it occurred when I tried to learn how to master chess–I never did, by the way. Maybe it was reading a lot of biographies of military generals and Presidents in my youth–I read few of them nowadays. Maybe it was because I admired football quarterbacks who didn’t stay in “the pocket” and who could “scramble” toward a successful play or basketball point guards who made things happen. I could do neither. Maybe it’s “just because.”

President Eisenhower once said that plans are worthless but planning is essential. Some are puzzled by his seemingly contradictory statement, but I understood it immediately. Charles Darwin would have, too. He didn’t say that it is the strongest who survive, but the most adaptable. 

Life is unpredictable. There will always be detours, missteps and “unforeseen” things along the way. Consider the Old Testament figure Joseph; Joseph as in “Joseph and the Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat” fame (see Genesis, chapters 37-50).  His life path was full of twists and turns but ultimately he ended up right where he needed to be. I suspect that the same will be true of you and me. It may not be where we wanted to be but it will be where we need to be for whatever Eternal reason.

The Apostle Paul once wrote that he has learned the secret of being content. The secret is relying on the strength, power, wisdom and love witnessed in Jesus.  Not my will, but Thy will be done. (Luke 22:42) Jesus was at one with God. Those who wish to take Him seriously are invited to seek that same fellowship. 

So here are three little glimpses of grace: 1. Take Proverbs 19:21 to heart–Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 2. Be adaptable. (Things never go as planned, so deal with it!) 3. Remember, Tomorrow, Today will be a memory. Make it a good one. 


My Heart Grieves

My heart is grieving. Given the events that have captured the headlines in the news, my heart is grieving.

I am grieving for those homes that will forever have an empty place at the table.

I am grieving for parents who don’t know what to teach their sons and for officers who leave their homes wondering if they will return home when their shift is over.

I am grieving for the children who will grow up without a mommy or daddy, for spouses who receive death benefits that in no way compensate for the loss that they must endure, for men to think that their manhood is proven by the number of the progeny instead of the amount of time they invest in their children, for the abused who become abusers and for those who need to strength to end whatever destructive cycle they were raised in.

I grieve for the neighborhoods in Chicago that in one weekend alone experience more shootings and death than New York City and Los Angeles combined, for those who worry when their loved one goes out the door, for those who do not feel safe behind their doors, for mothers who tuck their children in at night in bathtubs because they fear the stray bullet from outside their home, for politicians and citizens who appeal to not to our better angels but to our darkest fears and desires.

I grieve for those who are so insecure that they propagate hate and I grieve for those who are victims of hate.

I grieve for those who are skilled at the destructive half-truth and innuendo as well as for those who succumb to these variations of falsehood.

I grieve for the fact that we often look for the worst in people rather than look for their better virtues.

I grieve for the fact that we do not seem to take the words of Jesus seriously—we too often do not seek to be Peacemakers—the very children of God.

I grieve for the refugees who are welcomed nowhere, for the unemployed and underemployed.

I grieve for those who have too much and are never satisfied as well as for those who don’t have enough and are in hunger.

I grieve that there are too few who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

I grieve.

But grief can never have the last word. Tears may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning, the Old Testament book of Lamentations tells us. Grief alone leaves us powerless. But we are not powerless. We have God and God always has the last word. As Christians, called to be ambassadors of God’s Kingdom, the Light to the dark world, the Church—you and I—are called to be engaged and involved. Like Jesus we need to touch the broken places, not just with a bandaid but to get to the root causes and address them in ways both great and small. There are no small acts when done for the glory of God. Remember the parable of the mustard seed; the Kingdom of God starts small, with one person, one group, one congregation, and takes on a life of its own.

I remember attending a worship service in Addis Abba, Ethiopia in which the minister apologized that he and the elders would not be able to greet the worshipers and guests after the service—as was their custom. Instead, they needed to spend the rest of the day in prayer and fasting in order to hear God more clearly. Prayer and fasting is an ancient custom found in all faiths and recommended by our Lord Jesus Christ and affirmed in the writings of the apostle Paul. It is the first step that I am going to take to defeat my sense of helpless grief. I have decided to follow the ancient tradition and set aside time for prayer and fasting from sun up to sun down, as I go about my work. I invite you to join me wherever you may be.

We are not battling flesh and blood enemies—though some would have us believe that we are. No, we are battling evil forces in a dark unseen world that slither among us.  The face of Evil is dark and daunting and there are no easy solutions or quick fixes. But, we shall overcome for ultimately, Thy will, will be done, on earth as well as in heaven.  Frosty


Glimpse of Grace

My dad loved thunder storms, especially, it seemed, at night. I remember as a child sitting on his lap as a real “rumbler” rolled through from the west. I’ve often wondered why he liked them. He seemed to find a certain peace, especially in the summertime.  If I ever asked him “why”, I don’t remember his answer. He entered the Church Triumphant several years ago. But still, I wonder.  Was Dad fascinated by the wind or the lightening? Perhaps he was reflecting upon life’s hard knocks, the storms and disappointments that he confronted and largely overcame? Maybe he was having a “Walter Mitty” moment, imaging himself back in the navy standing on the deck of a ship cutting though the North Sea.  I don’t know why, but I do know that I was afraid.     
        The disciples knew what it was like to be afraid. One night they were taking Jesus to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Suddenly a storm arose. They were sure that they were going to die. They desperately looked for Jesus and found Him, asleep, in the stern of the boat!  “Don’t you care?” they cried.  I can understand their fear. I can imagine their desperation. We’ve all been afraid. We’ve all wondered at one time or another, whether we want to admit it or not, “Don’t you care?”
        “Be still,” Jesus commanded. And, just like at the Creation when God brought silenced the chaos, the wind died, the waves calmed, order was restored, and the disciples looked at each other, wondering, “Who is this man?”
        “Why are you afraid?” Jesus asked. The question cut to the heart of the matter. It cuts us, too.
         Overwhelmed. Swamped. Afraid. Life has a way of making us afraid. “Don’t you care?” we ask. Yes, He cares. Jesus does care, and if He cares, then we know that God cares.
         Therein lies the good news, the glimpse of grace. Sooner or later, in His own time, always at the right time, He “stills the storm.”



Glimpse of Grace in the Present Moment

A few months ago I decided to “walk through” the gospel of Mark as a part of my morning devotions. By “walk through”, I mean that I do not read in order to finish the gospel, per se. Rather, I kind of “stroll”, stopping at whatever catches my imagination, reading only until a phrase or a word gives me pause, makes me think for a moment or two.  Some days I may read a whole chapter. of the gospel. Those days are quite rare. Most days, indeed almost every day, I only read a phrase or two, maybe a few verses.  Recently I was stopped by a phrase at the beginning of chapter five; “the man (a demoniac) lived among the tombs.” (5:3)

     It struck me that no matter what the cultural setting may have been, to live among the tombs is live among the dead, the lifeless. In other words, to live in the past. It is to be limited by the memory of what once was but is no more. It is spending time, energy and money in an attempt to re-capture or replicate whatever glory we believe the past held.

     I know that the story is essentially about an exorcism, but it is also more than a simple exorcism. Is it possible that the story is also told to remind us that God can and does free us from the various “tombs” of our own past. Often we think that we are bound or limited by our yesterdays. The story, though, may be telling us that by grace we can be freed from the “chains and shackles” that weight us down.

     Some of us live too much in the past and hallow it to our own detriment. Others are wooed too much by the future and comfort themselves saying, “I’ll be happy when…I’m older, I get out of school, get my first job, get married, become a mother or father, receive an  inheritance, get a promotion, become CEO, get my dream job, etc. The list is endless.

     Look too much at the past or too much toward the future and you miss the present. It is in the present where life is lived, one day at a time. That it is where the living God is found, too. Right here, right now. Today, my friends, is a glimpse of grace.