I pray that you … grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. -Ephesians 3:17-18 (NIV)

My husband and I boarded a tram to Lian, a tiny Norwegian village six miles up a mountainside from Trondheim. As the tram made its way up the incline, we gazed at the neighborhoods nestled in the hillsides and the river snaking below.

At a stop midway, a group of backpack-laden schoolchildren waited to board. I noticed one boy charging toward another. “He must be the school bully,” I said to my husband. I was wrong.

One by one the children stepped into the tram, flashing their passes to the driver. The last to get on was the “bully.” The front of his jacket was mud-plastered. His eyes were tear-filled and red-rimmed. The

other kids walked to the back; he sat by himself in the front. I pretended to be absorbed in the scenery outside but watched him from the corner of my eye. The young boy’s face was set with near-fierce anger and determination, but his eyes betrayed hurt. He wiped them quickly with the back of his hand.

I wanted to help him, hug him, tell him it would be okay. But I didn’t speak Norwegian and, as my husband gently pointed out, comfort from an unknown woman would only humiliate him more. Yet

I feared that whatever had happened would become a memory that would haunt him for years.

A few stops later the boy got off As he hoisted his backpack and trudged up a hill, I prayed for him. Maybe, just maybe, that was exactly the help he needed most that day.

Lord Jesus, may that young boy learn to find strength and comfort in You.

–Kim Henry

Digging Deeper: Psalm 35:1; Isaiah 49:25; Ephesians 3:14-19




Church Signs

Don’t Worry about the economy: Church is still prophet-able.

The Blessings of Pets will be followed by a hot dog lunch.

Try our Sundays. They’re better than Ben & Jerry’s.

Tonight’s sermon topic is “What is Hell?”  Come early and listen to our choir practice.




Forgive as the Lord –Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

Sunrise, my golden retriever, bounded by my side as I reined SkySong, my white horse with a black mane, across the parking lot at the trailhead and toward my horse trailer. Parked next to mine, a brand-new truck and horse trailer gleamed in the sunlight. I nodded hello to two gals who looked to be in their twenties and were saddling their horses with silver-studded saddles. One of them held her chin in the air as she glared with disdain at the dirt and sweat that covered us from our morning ride. She commanded, “Don’t tie your horse to this side of your trailer.”

I felt flushed with anger. There’s room for all of us. Besides, you don’t own the trailhead. … Are you the …Queen of the Universe? But I rode to the other side of my trailer. Quickly, I unsaddled SkySong and loaded him.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I drove away.

The whole way home, Sunrise licked her paws and my mind whirled with ominous thoughts about the Queen of the Universe.

At home, Sunrise loped to the back porch and licked her paws. I curled on the deck next to her. “What’s up with your paws?” I scooped one into my lap and spread apart her pads. They brimmed with cheat grass, an arrow-shaped and barbed grass seed that burrows through the skin. “Oh, I’ve got to pull those out before they create an abscess inside of you.” When I said that, I heard inside of my spirit, And hour about pulling out those dark, thoughts about Miss Universe before they create a

spiritual abscess?

Lord, help me to choose forgiveness as my first response. Amen.

-Rebecca Ondov

Digging Deeper: Matthew 18:21; Luke 6:37



Gary wants a job as a signalman on the railways. He is told to meet the inspector at the signal box.

The inspector puts this question to him: “What would you do if you realized that 2 trains were heading for each other on the same track?” Gary says, “I would switch the points for one of the trains.”

“What if the lever broke?” asked the inspector. “Then I’d dash down out of the signal box,” said Gary, “and I’d use the manual lever over there.”

“What if that had been struck by lightning?” “Then,” Gary continues, “I’d run back into the signal box and phone the next signal box.”

“What if the phone was engaged?” “Well in that case,” persevered Gary, “I’d rush down out of the box and use the public emergency phone at the level crossing up there.”

“What if that was vandalized?” “Oh well then I’d run into town and get my uncle Bill.”

This puzzles the inspector, so he asks, “Why would you do that?” Came the answer, “Because he’s never seen a train crash.”




Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest … , -Ecclesiastes 9:9 (KJV)

It was Thursday morning and the week was almost over. It had been a particularly productive period at work, and I had found time to volunteer at a local center for children in need. Now I was wondering if all my busyness had come at a cost.

So how is Corinne doing?” one of my clients asked. I answered the way I usually do: “She’s great … loves being a mom … there’s never a dull moment at our house.”

After I hung up, though, I realized I didn’t really know how my wife was doing. Sure, we saw each other every morning and every evening, but with her mothering, volunteering, spending time with “friends, taking care of the house, as well as all the rest of life’s commitments, we had become like two ships passing in the night … well, at least passing in the morning and at night.

It had been a long time since I had said thank you to Corinne for making our dinners and washing our clothes, for helping to raise our girls.

I remembered noticing a card that she had propped up on the kitchen windowsill. It was several months old and was splashed and stained by kitchen work.

It was a note that came with flowers I had sent her on her birthday earlier in the year. The flowers were long gone, but the “I love you” on the card was still there. It obviously had meant a lot to her.

I picked up the phone and called the florist, but my resolve didn’t stop there. The next time someone asked, “How’s Corinne?” I was going to be sure to have an up-to-dare answer.

Father, in my busyness, help me hold those I love the most close in my heart.

-Brock Kidd

Digging Deeper: Proverbs 21:2; Jeremiah 17:10; Hebrews 10:24



One year at Thanksgiving, my mom went to my sister’s house for the traditional feast. Knowing how gullible my sister is, my mom decided to play a trick. She told my sister that she needed something from the store.

When my sister left, my mom took the turkey out of the oven, removed the stuffing, stuffed a Cornish hen and inserted it into the turkey, and re-stuffed the turkey. She then placed the bird(s) back in the oven.

When it was time for dinner, my sister pulled the turkey out of the oven and proceeded to remove the stuffing. When her serving spoon hit something, she reached in and pulled out the little bird.

With a look of total shock on her face, my mother exclaimed, “Patricia, you’ve cooked a pregnant bird!” At the reality of this horrifying news, my sister started to cry.

It took the family two hours to convince her that turkeys lay eggs!


“For now You number my steps …. ” -Job 14:16 (NK.JVJ

In an effort to stay fit, Wayne and I both got one of those devices that attach to our wrists and count our steps. It’s been fun for us to compete with each other on who has the higher count at the end of the day. Because I’m a morning person and up and about before Wayne stirs, I walk our dog, Bogie. This gives me an advantage of four to five thousand steps before my husband is even out of bed. As a result he’s playing catch-up for the rest of the day. Recently, I found him cheating by trying to put his device on Bogie.

It’s good to want to be physically fit. I want to be spiritually fit also.

That means taking time to read my Bible. And you know what? It’s a great read. Our pastor commented one Sunday that there’s good stuff in there, and he’s right. Being spiritually fit also means making time for prayer and for service to others. Because of my heavy travel schedule, much of my service is reaching out with cards and personal notes to those hurting, both physically and mentally, loving others as Jesus loves them.

Counting my steps is important, but making my spiritual steps count is even more so. My goal is to follow in the steps of}esus, Who I’m sure didn’t have a problem getting to ten thousand a day.

Father, may my steps count for You.

-Debbie Macomber

Digging Deeper: Psalm 119:133; Hebrews 12:1-2




Two elderly gentlemen from a retirement center were sitting on a bench under a tree when one turns to the other and says, “Slim, I’m 83 years old now, and I’m just full of aches and pains. I know you’re about my age. How do you feel?”

Slim says, “I feel just like a newborn baby!”

“Really!? Like a newborn baby!?”

“Yep. No hair, no teeth, and I think I just wet my pants.”


We may think we are doing the right thing, but the Lord always knows what is in our hearts. -Proverbs 21:2 (CEV)

I arrived early to New York City for a meeting, but I went to the wrong building … or so I thought. A concierge directed me to the building across the street.

When I arrived, I asked the receptionist where my meeting was taking place. “Do you know what her name is?” she asked. “I do not,” I said.

This is when things took a turn for the worse. The woman snapped, “You don’t know your name?”

I was taken aback and replied, “I know my name! I thought you asked if I knew the name of the person coordinating the meeting.”

Instead of accepting that I misunderstood her, she acted as if I was wrong and finally directed me back to the building I had just come from. As I was leaving, I said, “Wow, what an attitude!”

“You have an attitude!” she responded.

During the meeting I couldn’t stop thinking about my reaction to the woman. There had been no need for my comment, but I had let my emotions get the better of me.

Afterward, I went back and explained that I had misheard her and apologized for my remark. She looked at me and said, “It’s okay.” As I walked toward the exit, I looked back. She smiled and said again, “It’s


As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do the right thing.”

Lord, asking for forgiveness is not easy, but with Your guidance it’s the right thing.

-Pablo Diaz

Digging Deeper: Isaiah 51:7; James 4:17



My son, Scott, an insurance broker in Florida, loves ocean fishing and takes his cell phone along on the boat. One morning, we were drifting about ten miles offshore as Scott discussed business on the phone.

Suddenly, his rod bent double and the reel screamed as line poured off the spool. Scott was master of the situation.

“Pardon me,” he told his customer calmly. “I have a call on another line.”


Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. -Ecclesiastes 4:6 (ESV)

Feeling encumbered by possessions, I’ve been in a discard-it state of mind. Sorting items in a file cabinet, linen closet, food pantry.

Will I use it? Do I value it? If not, I’ve been gifting, donating, trashing. Then I turned to a kitchen cupboard. Do I need all these old food containers, stockpiled for leftovers? Half of them were dropped into a bag for recycling.

But the removals themselves didn’t make me feel less burdened.

Yesterday the urge remained strong, as if my spirit itself were crying, “Purge.” Setting my sights on an office bookcase, I went at it. “Out! Out!” I said, exhaling and tossing books in a box that I strained to lift.

Before I reached for a cup of coffee, I pulled another book off the shelf.

Vitamins for the Soul.’ 200 ways to Nurture Your Spiritual Life. I’d occasionally perused it when looking for an inspirational quotation. Should I keep or toss the book that had collected dust for decades?

I found the answer, and more, on page one in an epigraph by Henri Frederic Amid: “The man who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings.” I read the pithy statement a second and third time,

inhaling deeply.

To counterbalance my household obsession-get it out!-today I enjoyed a nourishing spiritual feast . After worshipping at church, I visited a museum, taking in the exciting offerings. Before dinner I read chapter

one of the Vitamins book, which, by the way, I’ve decided to keep.

Dear Lord, help me to learn that tending my spirit is at least as important as tidying my surroundings.

-Evelyn Bence

Digging Deeper: Matthew 6:19-21, 25-33




Who does Israel belong to? An Israeli with a sense of humor at the UN set the record straight.

An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile.

A representative from Israel began: “Before beginning my talk, I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, ‘What a good opportunity to have a bath!’ Moses removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock, and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Palestinian had stolen them!”

The Palestinian representative jumped up furiously and shouted, “What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren’t there then!”

The Israeli representative smiled and said, “And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech…”


Do everything in love. -1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)

A barista at my local cafe is truly love made visible. I take such delight watching Kristi interact with folks at the drive-through. She’ll be hanging out the window, all smiles, as she inquires about the pets and children in the back of a truck or the camping gear strapped to the top of a station wagon.

One morning I could stand it no more. “You must really enjoy what you do,” I said. “You never fail to make every person in your path feel cared for.”

“I’Il let you in on a little secret,” Kristi told me. “When I’m working that intercom, I ask all the customers, ‘How are you?’ and if they don’t answer or just say, ‘a chai tea latte,’ then I’m extra nice to them when

they pull up to get their drinks. That’s what keeps me happy all day long.”

Kristi’s response got me to thinking about others in my own path who leave the world better than they find it. Joe at the shoe-repair shop who stretches my flats to accommodate the tumors on my feet. Because of joe’s genuine caring, my feet don’t hurt as much as they used to. Nor my heart.

Then there’s the welcoming homeowner on the street where I shopped at an estate sale today. When everyone else placed “No Parking- Towing Enforced” messages in their yards, this person took a different approach. A colorful sign was positioned in a geranium-filled flower- pot that read, “Okay to park in my driveway. Enjoy the sale.”

Just everyday people doing their best to make the world a better place. Simple as it sounds, I want to be one of them. Don’t you?

 In an oft-unfriendly world, Lord, help me to represent You with a heart full of love.

-Roberta Messner


Digging Deeper: Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23  



On a cruise to Alaska, I saw my very first glacier in the magnificent Inside Passage. Excitedly, I asked the ship’s officer what it was called.

“It’s some dumb glacier,” he replied.

Disappointed by his attitude, I bought a map to figure it out for myself. I calculated our location and found the name of the ice mass. It was called, just as he had said, “Sumdum Glacier.”


If l take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me …. -Psalm 139:9-10 (KJV)

I landed in the hospital for two weeks with a mysterious lung infection. The doctors were baffled. My room was filled with specialists, rheumatologists, cardiologists, internists, pulmonologists, asking me a

roster of questions, checking the machine that monitored my dangerously low level of oxygen. I did my best to answer-in between gasps of air from a tank of oxygen. Family members sat with me; nurses and

techs scurried in and out.

That first day my hopes plummeted. Despair seemed a bigger enemy than anything going on with my body; But the one thing I remembered, as I drifted in and out of a fitful sleep, was my twenty-five-year-

old son, Timothy, reading the words of a psalm by my bedside.

Timothy left the second week, heading to South Africa for ten months of mission work. Fortunately, 1 came home at the end of that week, my fever gone, my lungs able to function again on their own, my energy returning. The doctors still couldn’t give me a diagnosis, but that was all right. “They kept me alive,” I told friends. “Prayers healed me.”

I still wondered, though, about that prayer by my bedside … had it even happened? I e-mailed Tim, “Did you read a psalm to me in the hospital?”

“Yes, Dad,” he e-mailed right back. He couldn’t remember which psalm it was and I certainly couldn’t, but one of his favorites is Psalm 139, with this wonderful passage about God’s power: “Even the

darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee” (verse 12, RSV). In my time of despair my son had given me words of light.

Lord, give me the words I need-Your words-to offer comfort to those in despair.

-Ride Hamlin


Digging Deeper: Psalm 71:5-6; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9



A young man called his mother and announced excitedly that he had just met a young lady of excellent character and virtue that interested him very much. What should he do?

His mother had an idea: “Why don’t you send her flowers, and on the card invite her to your apartment for a home-cooked meal?”

He thought this was a great idea, and a week later, the woman came to dinner. His mother called the next day to see how things had gone.

“I was totally humiliated,” he moaned. “She insisted on washing the dishes.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked his mother.

“We hadn’t started eating yet.”


THE BEAUTY OF SIMPLICITY – Trust Always Outshines Worry

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you …. -Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

During forty years of marriage, my husband, Rick, and I have argued about one thing in particular: I love being prepared and doing things ahead of schedule; Rick is laid-back and never worries. One night, during the 11 :00 p.m. news, the weatherman forecast the possibility of snow. “We better run to the grocery store,” I said. “Nah, it’s not going to snow.”

“What if it does? What if we lose power? The freezer’s full of meat.”

“Relax,” he said.

“How? We could be homebound if a blizzard strikes.”

Sure enough, the next morning the house was cold and dark. No power. No heat. I peered into our snow-covered backyard. “The weatherman and I were right,” I said, annoyance creeping into my tone.

“I’ll set up the generator,” he replied, getting out of bed.

“What generator?”

“The one I bought a few years ago.” Minutes later, Rick restored enough power to save the meat, keep his outdoor parakeets warm, and make cofree.

I’d doubted my husband would take care of me, the same way I’d doubted God could handle my fears and worries. Filled with admiration and gratitude, I crunched my way through our snowy yard, the air

smelling woodsy, like home and wintertime and safety.

“I worried for nothing. Your survival skills are quite impressive.”

Rick winked at me. “Just doing my job, ma’am.”

Plenty of times, I’ve assumed You weren’t doing Your job, Lord.

Tm sorry. You always have everything under control.

-Julie Gannon


Digging Deeper: Isaiah 45:6-7; Jeremiah 29:11



Several years ago, Andy was sentenced to prison. During his stay, he got along well with the guards and all his fellow inmates. The warden saw that deep down, Andy was a good person and made arrangements for Andy to learn a trade while doing his time.

After three years, Andy was recognized as one of the best carpenters in the local area. Often he would be given a weekend pass to do odd jobs for the citizens of the community … and he always reported back to prison before Sunday night was over.

The warden was thinking of remodeling his kitchen and in fact had done much of the work himself. But he lacked the skills to build a set of kitchen cupboards and a large counter top, which he had promised his wife. So he called Andy into his office and asked him to complete the job for him.

But, alas, Andy refused. He told the warden, “Sir, I’d really like to help you but counter fitting is what got me into prison in the first place.”


“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” =Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)

Every Tuesday morning several colleagues and I push chairs into the breakroom for prayer. It’s brief: a snippet of Scripture and then we go around the circle praying about our teaching and any larger issues

affecting it-trends, politics, world events. I’m guessing each of us is also secretly praying for whatever big bad things are going on in our lives and families.

That’s, in any case, what I do. And it doesn’t stop there. As I leave the breakroom, secret prayers overwhelm me. You know the ones I mean: prayers concerning suffering that no one knows about, troubles you can’t list among your church’s prayer requests, seemingly unsolvable worries.

Whenever I pray this way; I pray the same, almost hopeless prayer: “Heavenly Father, heal it, fix it, make it go away!”

Today, it occurred to me that the Father had already answered such prayers with His plan to banish all suffering and make everything right in the end. In the meantime, He’s sent His Son-not to cure this

world’s ills just now but to be with us in our anguish. Jesus is not the fix-all dad I’m envisioning when I pray for help but a brother who’s suffered similar miseries: the terrifyingly small faiths of loved ones, betrayals, looming anxiety about the future, and feeling forsaken by the only One Who can solve His problems.

Recognizing God as my co-sufferer doesn’t magically heal or repair my hidden problems or even banish them from my consciousness, but it does make me feel less alone. I know that, like the best of siblings, Jesus commiserates. He’s with me in my misery, lamenting with, and for, me.

Brother Jesus, be with us in our most secret-prayers!

-Patty Kirk


Digging Deeper: Isaiah 7:4-14; Revelation 21:1-5



The teacher asked one of her young students if he knew his numbers.

“Yes,” he said. “I do. My father taught me.”

“Good. What comes after three.”

“Four,” answers the boy.

“What comes after six?”


“Very good,” says the teacher. “Your dad did a good job. What comes after ten?”

“A jack,” says the little boy.


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