Pastor Mark’s Devotions, June 30

Thought for Today”

“Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” Deuteronomy 4:10


A few days ago, I discovered a newspaper clipping that I had tucked away in my Bible. It had yellowed over the years and looked like it belonged with other old, similar yellowed newspaper pages found in boxes holding my Christmas decorations stored in my attic. This particular page of news came from the section that held the crossword puzzle, cartoons and birthdays of famous people. At first, I could not remember why I had saved this particular clipping. The page was dated, Thursday, April 9, 2015.  Finally, my eye caught the brackets I had made around the, “Thought for Today.” Quickly, I remembered the moment I read the quote. One sentence that hit with a punch. I was surprised, for one, that The Daily Herald would include a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Secondly, I was struck by this singular thought from Bonhoeffer. His quote stated, “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” This quote was written during the turbulence and shadow of World War II. Today, it still speaks and gives pause to ponder and consider this world of ours. What kind of world are we truly going to leave our children? Given, the conditions and crises of today, it seems we as a society would do well to ponder this thought for much longer than today. Then I was pressed to consider this thought more personally. What kind of world am I personally going to leave my own children? Another question to wrestle with beyond the day.

What kind of world will we leave our children? Will we pass on economic, civic and political unrest? Will we pass on polluted water, polluted air, and polluted attitudes and perspectives? Will we leave a $30 trillion dollar debt for the next generation to figure it out for themselves? And what kind of world will I leave my children? Will it be fraught with uncertain, unspoken, and unknown subjects filled with question marks? Or can I leave them with understanding, unchanging devotion and undying commitment. Every child and every human being for that matter, has the innate need for safety, security, and love. Can we deliver on these for the next generation in the midst of these turbulent times? As a society, we have delivered great technological advances for our children. Life is easier for them than ever before. But we all know this not to be true. Foundations are being shaken. The youth today are being shaken emotionally, psychologically, mentally and spiritually as never before. Much of this could be arguably attributed to the very technology that was to make their lives so much easier. Yet, technology, in and of itself cannot be seen as the simple culprit. Is it true, that the moral and spiritual fabric of our culture is coming undone? If this is true, what can be done? What did the previous generations teach us and leave to us? What are we missing? What do we need to understand?

If we look to the past, Moses had his eye upon the next generation. He would not travel with his people into the Promised Land, but he didn’t want them to miss what was most important. He declared, “Only watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.” Moses continued, “Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10)

It is very likely, that the world will continue to scurry about and seem to grope in the dark. Let us keep our eye on the prize. Let us return to the light and to our salvation. David declares, “THE LORD is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? THE LORD is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) Let us leave a legacy to our children and the next generation that points to the ways of the LORD. David states in Psalm 78:3-4, “What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.” No matter what happens in the world around us, let us teach, model, live and give witness to the ways of the LORD. Let us point our children to an encounter with the living God. Let us leave a legacy to the world that directs them to a God whose ways are trustworthy and true. And that no matter what kind of world is left to our children, they will live safe and secure, knowing that they are loved by God and that He holds their future in his hands.

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark’s Devotional March 20


“Grace and Space”

“…All of you share in God’s grace with me.” Philippians 1:7

St. Paul begins his letter to the church in Philippi by sharing his heart with his people. He expresses thanksgiving, gratitude and love for the joyful opportunity of their partnership in the gospel.

Listen to his words, “I thank my God every time I think of you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.    It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” Phil. 1:3-7

Like Paul, my heart is full of love and gratitude for all of you as well. I thank God for our partnership in the gospel. And whether we feel chained in our homes or not, I give thanks. I am convinced that when this pandemic subsides, we will quickly return together and share the joy that will carry us forth in power and love.

We have a crucial message to share. The world needs to hear it. For you and I share in the grace of God.

Watching Channel 13 News this morning, I heard about grace from an unexpected source. It reminded me about extending undeserved favor. We all need to be reminded about grace in this time and space – for ourselves, for others.

The story was reported in the New York Times. The article was entitled, “I Am Not Turning My Home into a Coronavirus Home School.” A woman explained that she was unprepared and overwhelmed trying to set up a school schedule and routine so that her children would learn.  Lesson plans, packets and snack time was just not going to happen. So, in these unprecedented times, she was going to bake cookies with the kids, watch movies, play video games and allow generous access to the refrigerator.

The News 13 reporter went on to explain that he felt compelled to do a google search on this woman.  Turns out that she has been trained at Harvard University. She has a Phd. In Education. She is a woman who teaches teachers!  She is an educator, but the reality is, she is also a human being. She is trying to manage life’s stresses and because of this she is giving herself and her children some grace.

Is she a terrible mom? Will the kids grow up illiterate, uneducated and living in poverty? Probably not. What I heard is that she is taking a deep breath and extending love and favor to herself and to her children. Will the projects need to be completed? Probably. But right now, she is giving herself and her family some grace and space.

Today, let us acknowledge that we live under a canopy of grace. God’s grace! God has recklessly thrown out the lesson plans with all its deadlines and expectations and has lavishly loved us through his Son, Jesus Christ. WE ALL SHARE IN THIS GRACE TOGETHER! Whatever expectations you might have of yourself and/or of others, take a deep breath. Jesus arrives wanting to give us a breath of fresh air. And then for us to breathe that grace filled air upon others – just stay 6 feet away from them or I’ll have to throw you in jail – just kidding – are you smiling.

Let us smile. Let us laugh. Let us enjoy this beautiful sunny day God has given us. Let us eat that chocolate cake for breakfast. Do you need to take a break from your exercise routine? Do it. Do you really need to vacuum the house again? Don’t do it. Let us take a break from reading, writing, doing whatever it might be. Maybe we just need to “be” today. Receive the grace. It is granted. Let us receive it. Let us share it. Heck, even the government is giving us until July 15 to file our taxes. Can you feel it? GRACE ABOUNDS!

We are in the midst of serious times that require serious action. Let us temper this intensity and allow for some of the grace and space we all share.

It is right for me to feel this way. As you have given me a thick slab of chocolate cake, and extended much grace and favor to my family and I. So, I hope to share that same grace with you, and make it alamode. Thanks be to God that we all share in God’s grace together. So, go ahead. Have a second piece!

Grace and Space through our Savior, Jesus Christ,

Pastor Mark