Prayer is the topic of a book study we are doing with our pastor these weeks of November 2022. But, back in 2015, it was also a topic of discussion and the title of our guest minister’s sermon. Take a step back – and join me:
Prayer was the title of our sermon on Sunday, August 16, 2015 by Rev. Carol Shellenberger of Bozeman, MT. Here are the notes I took while I listened to her very meaningful and inspiring message:
Turning to the Lord in prayer Is a habit I cultivate. Turning to the Lord with concern Is wise, before it’s too late.
But turning to the Lord in praise Is a minute-by-minute habit. It’s not just a request for courage When we’re afraid. It’s a joy. Grab it!
Prayer is a source of inspiration. Our Father has so much to give. Prayer is a way to receive it… The gift of wisdom; abundance to live.
Some folks expect too much or too little, Looking for extraordinary results Or doubting that God even hears. But prayer is a part of us – like our pulse.
Turning to the Lord in prayer Tells God we are here – and so is He. We know He is wherever we are. I know my Lord cares and answers me.
Prayer is not just a matter of speaking; It’s conversation, but it’s silence, too. If you never stop talking in prayer to God, You never hear what He’s saying to you,
In Luke 11, Jesus teaches His disciples To pray in a wise, simple way. Recognize the power of God And reflect on what this version has to say.
It’s a personal, approachable prayer To Abba, our Papa, our Dad. It invites us to be honest with God, Especially when we’ve been remorsefully bad.
Be specific in naming your sins. From your core, tell Him of your failure and fear. Then look for the way your Savior responds. Notice His Spirit within you. Feel His Love near.
God may not answer in ways you expect. Our Lord is not Santa Claus in disguise. Listen and look for God’s exquisite response. He cares, He hears, and His response always is wise.
In faith, hope and trust, Just PRAY!
Take your troubles to the Lord today. The Holy Spirit is in you – always ready. The God of Creation who created you Is here to help you … Helpfulness is steady.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, You know I attend church every Sunday, And I usually try to take sermon notes. As I listen, I try to record the message poetically.
Our pastor, Rev. Mary Grace Reynolds, is doing a bold sermon series. She’s asking our church congregants to send her scripture that puzzles or troubles them.
This week the scripture passage she used is from Luke 9:57-62. A weird one indeed! I’ve often thought Jesus was rather harsh with these two men who wanted to follow Him.
New International Version
The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Today’s sermon notes:
The mid-west mecca of modern architecture Is Columbus, Indiana. Ever been there? I watched the movie, “Columbus,” recently. Jinn & Casey meet and share.
Ultimately the movie is about Staying or leaving – choices we make. Casey needs to go, but doesn’t want to. Jinn convinces her to leave for her own sake.
Jesus may have been telling the men To leave for their own sake. Their situations were different, But departure was what it would take.
Jewish burial rites have many parts: Wrapping body, burial, dig up, burn, urn… In this scripture a man wants to tend to his father. Jesus prompts, “Come now and learn.”
We don’t know at what point in the rites This man’s father may have been – But it seems harsh for Jesus to tell him “Let the dead bury their dead.” Such chagrin!
Another man wants to go back to his family, But Jesus says, “Do not do an about face!” This passage is all about priorities. Jesus asks us to put Him in first place.
Love is not selfish, sinking in its talons. Love is generous – love always is kind. There often is sadness in leaving, But when God calls, listen, decide, and mind!
Don’t get stuck looking back (like Lot’s wife). You’ll become a pillar in your own tears and grief. It’s all about priorities and obedience. Hear God’s call and follow your belief!
What is it that determines your values and beliefs?
Perhaps Jesus was not being harsh with those two men after all. Perhaps, like Jinn and Casey in the movie, “Columbus,” He was telling them to leave for their own sake – even though they didn’t want to go quite yet.
Sometimes God’s perfect timing doesn’t seem perfect… … at least not at the time He jerks us out of our comfort zone! But often, looking back, we can say, “Aha! Now I see… God always knows what is best for me!”
Jesus’ words may seem harsh at first glance, But He always has our best interest at heart. I need to trust His encouragement to step out… And what better time than now to start?
See ya on the road to success tomorrow (God willing) Love, JanBeek
Our message at church today was an interesting one. Rev. Mary Grace Reynolds shared a story about a clerical friend of hers who renamed Palm Sunday “Donkey Sunday” because the palm leaves show up in only some of the Gospels, but the donkey is in all four!
Power in Love
Royalty who rode donkeys were considered a disgrace. But the throng didn’t mind How Jesus entered the place.
Power is a social contract. It’s a constructed idea for us. However it is not a given – Except in the case of Jesus.
Christ Power is a given. In the beginning was Light, And the Light was God who Came from darkness into sight.
Jesus Christ came from Light. Through God all things were created. Jesus was not just made… He always was. And I’m elated!
Because He came, I know That He will come again. He has the power to save us all. His power can save us from our sin.
Think about the presence Of power in our lives. When do you exercise it? Control it, friends, ’til Christ arrives!
The donkey is a symbol of humility. The King of Kings came not to reign Over the rulers of this earthly kingdom. He came in love to display His own domain.
His kingdom is not on earth. Instead, it is in eternity… The place He has reserved For believers like you and me.
Today might be called “Donkey Sunday.” It is the day Christ rode to town On the back of this lowly animal. Praise God, His Son came down!
Power was His – But He exchanged it For humility and love And expressed it with compassion.
Happy Donkey Week, my friends. May the Power of the Holy Spirit Be expressed in you Through Love and Humility.
Thanks for your message, Rev. Reynolds. I pray my sermon notes did it justice.
Happy Sunday, my friends! Did you get to go to church this morning? Our church here in Ennis, Montana began today to resume in-person fellowship after the worship service. So good to be back in communication with our friends over a cup of coffee or tea and some wonderful refreshments.
This is Jo & Jim Forsberg who created these beautiful and tasty refreshments. I’m providing the fellowship refreshments next Sunday. This is a hard act to follow!
And now, back home in the comfort of our newly painted dining room, I am reviewing our sermon message today and wish to share it with you. As you know, I have a habit of taking notes in poetry as I listen to the message each Sunday. Here’s what Rev. Mary Grace Reynolds’ sermon at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church said to me today:
Stay the Course
The road goes on – Listening each morning – A long, grueling journey – The road goes ever on.
It doesn’t seem hopeful – But, Jesus is on the road. We stand in solidarity With Him and His suffering.
Tolkien was encouraged – Lewis was hopeful, too. In a world of World War I, There was great disillusion.
The death toll was great In Europe and the US, too. The statistics kept rolling On the road – ever on…
Humanity tries to cheat And to wield power – Tries to play God – A dark, dangerous journey.
There is some good here In this world – and It is worth fighting for. Jesus knows no short cuts.
Only the long, grueling road – A journey that ends not In death, but in victory. We are on the road to Oneness.
Oneness with God Is the journey’s end. We stand in solidarity With Him. Stay the course!
(Quoting from Lord of the Rings?) “See the road roll past your doorway Calling for your feet to stray Like a deep and rolling river The road may sweep you far away.
Just beyond the horizon Like a waiting world unknown Like the dawn its beauty beckons With a wonder of its own.”
Oneness with God
Is the journey’s end.
We stand in solidarity
With Him. Stay the course!
Thanks for joining me on today’s journey. Continue, my friends, to pray for the people of Ukraine. Pray for their journey to lead toward Oneness with God – and a peaceful Oneness with us all.
God speak of your love and peace to Putin. God help us all!
Going to church on Sunday Always gives me inspiration: A theme to carry with me Through the week with contemplation.
Yesterday was no exception – The message was one of love, With 1 Cor. 13: 1-13 guiding My connection with Above.
Our pastor, Mary Grace Reynolds, Delivered a sermon with finesse, Alluding to the “Tragic Gap” That has our world in a mess.
Once upon a time she was A chaplain in a trauma center. A man was all alone there Where she was told to enter.
Her presence felt quite futile – Comatose and unhooked from life-support; But she gathered her wits and recited The Lord’s Prayer, knowing his life was short.
He may not have heard her petition, But then again, who knew? Maybe that prayer guided him To the Lord – and Life anew.
Stealing herself against dismay, Mary Grace spoke with assurance. “You’re a beloved Child of God, And He has issued us insurance.
The pain and hurt of life Can be a place of great despair, But you can ask and receive God’s Grace… it’s always there.”
Mary Grace assured us, too, That God’s strength is ours to claim As soon as we believe and Ask for it in Jesus’ name.
Never doubt that humanity Can be changed forever more For the better – in an instant. Just knock at Jesus’ door!
Don’t accept the “Tragic Gap” As a place we have to be. The cavernous space between love And a world of hate – is not for me!
Lead each other away from That place of despair and hopelessness. Be assured, there is a better reality. Lead on to the road of wholesomeness!
In addition to the message of the sermon, I am inspired (sometimes to the point of tears) by the music. Yesterday the hymn that choked me up was this one – Pay attention to those words – they are powerful!
The verse that caught in my throat was the one that made me think of the #Bloganuary prompt from a few days ago: “How Are You Changing the World?”
Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name? Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same? Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around through my sight and touch and sound in you, and you in me?
May your presence in this world Be a source of peace and inspiration To the people you encounter every day. Close the “Tragic Gap” with your imagination!
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today. I’ll see you tomorrow (God willing)
We are happy to be home – and delighted to have the floors almost finished. Also delighted to know there is a medication out there to help Bob with his heart issues.
Again, thank you for your prayers! (We await the insurance approval of the med.) God bless you!
Light Dispels Darkness Open His Word Let it enlighten you Brightness
Brightness Is yours If you ask Take it to others Share
Today at Madison Valley Presbyterian Church, here in Ennis, Montana, Pastor Mary Grace Reynold’s sermon was inspired by the New Testament scripture Matthew 2: 4-18
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[a]
16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”[b]
If something unnerves you, pay attention! The realm of unpleasantness is not what we expect in Advent as we wait for the Messiah. Killing all the boy babies? Worse than unnerving!
The season of Hope, Faith, Joy and Love is not supposed to be unsettling. Let’s weep with Rachel over the loss of children. Let’s weep over the bleakest of backgrounds.
Life is frequently bleak, but take heart! Into this bleakness a star appeared in the sky. Into this bleakness the vulnerable baby was born. Into this bleakness, a cruel king felt threatened.
Herod, the king sat in the stain of his own shallow angst and envy. He looked foolishly to the stars, believing in his own deity.
Threatened by an innocent baby, reported to be coming as a king, Herod ordered the death of all boys under the age of two in Bethlehem.
God heard the cries of “the least of these.” Jesus remembered those cries when He reminded us to care for “the least of these.” And friends, we each are part of “the least of these.”
Jesus/God knows the hearts of the bleak. He injects hope in the hearts of the hopeless. He injects love, joy and peace into our bleak world today.
Rejoice in the brightness of God’s love. Rejoice that God claims us. Do not be surprised by God’s compassion. Bask in the warmth of His bright love.
May peace, love, hope and joy be yours this Advent season – and into the new year. May the brightness of Jesus/God be within you. Share His bright light with others.
Wreath Advent Memories Light each candle Remember what each symbolizes Jesus
Embrace Brightness!! Thanks for visiting JanBeek. See ya tomorrow (God willing)
Do you have trouble asking for help? Or trouble receiving it? Or trouble knowing when you need it?
All of those are questions to which I must admit – yes! I enjoy being able to say, “I can do this!” Mom told me that two of my favorite words as a toddler were, “Me do!”
So, it should come as no surprise to you that I was reluctant to accept the help of a wheelchair when we were in Switzerland this month. Our daughter and grandsons were very wise, however. They didn’t ask. They just rented one and had it available for the loooong walks they knew would be part of our schedule. God bless ‘em!
Bob, with his congestive heart ♥️ failure – and me with my arthritic knee and ankles, needed it! And we appreciated taking turns being pushed as we toured Sierre (with Mike’s fiance’ Tania, as our gracious tour guide) and as we walked the distances required at the Sion Wine Festival. (Seeing how others see you when you’re in a wheelchair… well, that’s a topic for a future blog!)
The other help that we really treasured was our daughter, DeAna’s tech skills. She helped us find the links to the COVID-19 tests and other paperwork we needed before travel, the taxi we needed to get from airport to hotel/hotel to restaurant/ restaurant to train station, etc. Lordy, we could not have made this trip without her and all our other helpers!
Here are a few more photos of the phenomenal experiences we had:
The train took us from Derrick’s in Downton to London. We had a wait at Waterloo Station before the next train to the airport, so we took the opportunity to relax and grab a bite to eat. (Yes, food always is a highlight of foreign travel!)
The travel in London is very easy if you have someone helping you find the right direction, the right train or taxi. On the train, each stop is well labeled. Away we went… headed for Heathrow Airport and on to Geneva.
De’s husband, André, picked us up at the airport… another helper whose gracious assistance we accepted willingly. It was a drizzly, gray day, but that weather only lasted two days. The rest of our two weeks in Switzerland were gorgeous blue skies!
This is our view on morning #1 from Denise’s balcony in Sierre.
That first Swiss week, we were at André’s mom, Denise’s in Sierre. And of course, more food … and delicious wine. That’s our DeDe getting ready to serve the wine. Our grandsons, Nick & Mike, provided the cheese fondue. More evidence of generous helpers… doing the cooking and serving!
The fondue is always one of our favorite Swiss meals. As you know, Switzerland is noted for its cheese, chocolates, and watches… oh, and banking! It is an amazing, clean, technically advanced, beautiful country!
In advance of our arrival, our grandsons created a spreadsheet of activities they planned for us and sent it out to family, so others could choose times to be involved with our visit. Soooo sweet of them!
Thank you, Nicky, for being such a wonderful, loving helper! We look forward to your visit here to Montana this Thanksgiving with your sweetheart, Celine.
Thank you, Mike & Tania, for taking such good care of us and showing us so many beautiful sites! We look forward to returning to Switzerland next September for your wedding!
In today’s sermon at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church, our pastor, Mary Grace Reynold’s sermon fit right into this theme of “Embrace Helpers.” Using Mark 10:46-52 as her springboard, she shared the helping nature of Jesus. The story of the blind man who asked for Jesus’ help pointed clearly to need for us all to set aside our “Me do” childish attitude and ask for help when we need it. Accept help offered, and praise the Lord with all our hearts when that help comes.
New International Version
Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.
47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”
50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Thank you, DeDe, for marrying Andre’ and giving us this wonderful place to “have to” visit! Thank you for all your help & love.
Dear blogging friends, I pray when you have a chance to travel and you need help seeing all you want to see, you will take a lesson from Bartimaeus and from Bob & me… Ask for help – Graciously receive it – And enjoy the journey with gratitude and joy in your heart!
Happy Sunday, my friends. I hope you had a great day. As usual, Bob & I attended church and I took notes as I listened to the sermon.
The message was delivered by Pastor Mary Grace Reynolds. The sermon was inspired by John 6:51-63.
I was amazed at how cleverly MGR took the scripture and applied it to today’s world.
John 6:51-63 NIV
51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.
The Living Bread
We come to church to seek comfort, But is that the point of our faith? Aren’t we called to be moved by Jesus? He appeared a bit delusional to His disciples.
Jesus suggested what was prohibited. People didn’t eat human flesh! That teaching came across blasphemous. Associating with Jesus caused them alienation.
Jesus’ message was meant to teach His followers that He was the food That would bring them into relationship With God … and not laws or codes.
God saves – Rituals don’t. God sent manna and now Jesus. First physical, then spiritual saving. Jesus told them, “I am the Bread.”
Trust Jesus to provide the catalyzing calories in our lives. Feed on Him daily!
God Bless You for visiting JanBeek today. I appreciate you.
Today’s sermon was titled, “Please Go to Bed Angry.”
What??? We all know what the Bible tells us:
So how could our pastor, Mary Grace Reynolds tell us to go to bed angry? What a weird twist on a well-known scripture, huh? What was the point she was making? Here are the notes I took as I listened to today’s sermon:
Sit with yourself in silence Long enough to feel the anger That’s hidden inside of you.
If you’re not angry, You’re not really livin’ – Anger is a quiet, deep given.
Anger leads to rage and hatred. Anger leads to destruction – And we might not know it’s there.
I’m angry, and I name it. I see it; I control it. Paul tells us, “Walk away!”
Don’t let your anger lead you to sin. Some people hurt us intentionally And the gospel says, “Walk away!”
But there are people in our lives Who need to be there – And we may find some of them “angry.”
What do we do with anger? Acknowledge it, define it, use it. Let it build for the common good.
When I “feel” anger, It doesn’t have to define me. Sleep on that anger and address it.
Weather the conflict and Don’t let it divide us. Initiate the pain confrontation.
Managing anger demands strength And a clearness of mind. Let it be the light illuminating a better way forward.
Anger is like boiling water inside you. It bubbles up and alerts you To the need to get it up and out.
Righteous anger is addressed In the Bible very clearly when Jesus overturned the tables.
The money changers were Ripping off the worshipers. Jesus would have none of that!
John 2:15 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. Matthew 21:12 12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. Mark 11:15 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves…
If Jesus had slept on that anger, Might he have responded differently? I doubt it. The situation was untenable!
Some actions and incidences Deserve our righteous anger. No need to sleep on it!
But other reasons for anger Are not so clear cut! Let the resolution stew a while!
After sleeping on it, You may find there is a better solution Than the one you thought of yesterday.
Let God speak to you. Listen to His calming influence. Respond biblically!
So, while we may embrace the right to be angry, And we may feel justified exhibiting righteous anger, The real path to a peaceful, joyful, and fulfilling life Is the path described in Colossians 3:12. It’s my choice!
Embrace Your Pastor. He or she needs your support – And needs your feedback!
Your pastor plants seeds With each sermon presented. You fertilize them.
You add nutrients To the soil where they’re resting By watering them.
Water the ideas By ruminating on them. What was the message?
Each week I take notes. I capture the main ideas As they resonate.
Today’s seeds that Pastor Mary Grace Reynolds sowed were inspired by Ephesians 2:11-22 and enhanced by the experience she had Friday night and Saturday morning with a group of young bicyclists who were traveling 4000 miles for cancer research. Here are my notes that I took while listening this morning.
Serving 400 hours as a hospital chaplain Was required in my seminary studies. Why God – why? What’s the answer? With integrity and stamina, just serve!
Ephesians 2 is not about empty connections. It’s talking about the death of our worst instincts. It’s talking about getting on board with Christ. Paul believed Christ would come back yesterday!
We’re still here thousands of years later… Wondering when that victory over death And division will come to this earth. The Kingdom of God didn’t come in Paul’s time.
It hasn’t come in our time, either. Addictions, abuse, fires, death, wars continue. Where is the world where all divisions are erased? We’re here to put our feet on the ground and be hopeful.
Moments of hope will come to you. The U of Austin bike riders were my moment. Stories of lodging needs and cancer research, Tenacity, friendship, and HOPE scenarios entered.
Hope is a screamer and fighter. Sometimes it works out for the good. HOPE is the reality that God is love. Evil will not win. God’s hope will!
Say YES to what pulls on your heartstrings. Say YES to the reality of God’s hope. Say YES to Truth and love and reaching out. Say YES to cancer research and to helping.
Every inch gained in the fight against cancer Is an inch toward life and hope. We are building the Kingdom of God here Where violence and oppression will be foreign to us.
With tenacity, hang in there. With tenacity listen to God’s response to Your questioning… Why God? Why? With tenacity and stamina and love, just serve!
Embrace Your Pastor. He or she needs your support – And needs your feedback!
Happy Sunday. Thanks for visiting JanBeek See ya tomorrow (God willing).