In these days of national crises, It’s easy to feel powerless. It’s easy to duck our heads and hide. It’s easy to take the role of cowardice.
Our uncertainty about the future Stirs in us anxiety and fear. But stronger yet is our faith. We take courage. God is here.
This letter from Amy Klobuchar, A politician I have come to admire, Came to me in today’s mail. Her message calms the fire.
Today’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes at a time when his work and his message are more important than ever. The forces of division that are trying to convince us that our neighbors are our enemies have been loud in recent months — but I still believe as I always have that there is still more that unites us as Americans than separates us.
Our nation is coming together to reject violence and authoritarianism. This is the spirit that we must bring into the future. We must heed the words of Dr. King, that we are all “tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Thank you, Amy
Turning to the wisdom of the scriptures, We can gain resolve and be brave. We can shine a light and be courageous. God tells us how to behave.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave or forsake you.”
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit this land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
The rioters at our nation’s capitol last week were intent on “taking back the country” by overturning the Biden/Harris election. They were convinced that the election was fraught with fraud. Hundreds of court cases were brought against election officials. Each case lost or was thrown out. Even judges appointed by President Trump found “no fraud existed.”
The actions of the rioters were not what Martin Luther King would have sanctioned. They were not what God in His scripture advocates. Paul, in his letter to the people of Corinth said what we need to hear today:
1 Corinthians 16:13
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
He was not speaking to rioters. He was speaking to give courage to the people of Corinth to stand against oppressors.
Part of today’s problem in the USA (in my humble opinion) is that there is a host of Americans who have decided the people on the side of the law are the oppressors. They have painted Donald Trump as their liberator. A huge portion of our citizenry still is convinced the election was stolen. For only the second time in our history, the outgoing president will not be there at the inauguration to wish the incoming president well – and to encourage a peaceful transition of power. It is sad, indeed!
The most important thing we can do as a nation – and in fact, as a world – is to pray. Ask God to give courage and steadfastness to those people who have been elected to lead us forward. Join together in asking for a peaceful transition. There are (hopefully) many such prayer meetings occurring today and tomorrow. Here is one of them:
As we EMBRACE COURAGE and stand in the power and love of Christ, we must be discerning. Listen for the voice of God’s Truth. Try not to believe misleading rhetoric. Be sure we stand in God’s Will as we act by His strength.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today. Embrace Courage, my friends. See ya tomorrow.
This is the image I put on the front of this week’s church bulletin:
If you’ve followed my blog for a week or more, you know that Sunday afternoon’s blog usually is devoted to sermon notes from this morning’s worship service at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana – sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley.
Today’s sermon, “Listening for God,” was based on the story of Hannah, Samuel, and Eli as told in 1 Samuel 3:1-20 and John 1:43-51.
Listening for God
Sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes by Jan Beekman
I was known to be able To sleep through anything. I inherited that trait from my grandma. You could sing At the top of your lungs And she would not awake. That’s a trait I retained Through most of my life’s daybreaks.
But later in life I found I would awaken at midnight And be unable to go back to sleep. I couldn’t nod off, try as I might. And in the wee hours I find The bad things seem worse. They magnify in the darkness. Sleeplessness is a curse!
So, how must it have been When Samuel heard God’s voice In the middle of the night – Must’a made him puzzle – not rejoice! His mother, Hannah, also Heard God’s voice when barren. He told her she’d give birth, So she promised her babe she’d be sharin’.
When her baby, Samuel, was born, She kept her promise to God And gave her child to Him By delivering him to Eli’s sod. Samuel grew up in the church. One night Sam heard the sound Of a voice calling out his name. He went to Eli in a running bound.
Eli told him it was God Calling him to listen and hear. It took courage to listen and accept That it was the Lord speaking clear. Samuel’s whole life changed that night As he suddenly became a man. He learned to listen without fright And obey God’s voice… just as we can.
There are lots of voices we hear In our nights that lack sweet slumber. Are we listening to the true voice of God Or is it somebody else – or thunder? While we wake to the world’s troubles, Sometimes it’s hard to discern and hear The Word of God – and live what He commands. Declare our willingness, and know God is near.
There is grace and hope knowing When Samuel listened, he changed From a boy to a Man of God – And his future was rearranged. Take courage and respond with “Speak, Lord, your servant is ready To hear and respond, and live out Your words to me. Keep me steady.”
There were a couple dozen of us tuned in to this ZOOM church service today. Thank you for joining us via this blog I pray you are tuned in to hear God’s voice, too.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
To be sure your steps Are on the path the Lord sets Embrace Listening
… and practice obedience! Here’s one of the hymns we sang during our ZOOM service this morning:
Embrace Compassion Be kind to one another Be quick to show love
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. “
What the world needs now is love, sweet love … and it needs to be exhibited by showing compassion to one another… especially to those whose attitudes, beliefs, and ways of expressing themselves are different from our own. Be a compassionate listener!
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
What can people do In a world filled with trouble? Display compassion!
Try to understand – Look for commonality. Rise above the fray.
Don’t join arguments – Don’t fuel the fires of anger. Instead, be the frey!
Frey:the god of fertility and dispenser of rain and sunshine. No, I’m not suggesting you can be a god… But you can be a dispenser of sunshine, right? You can take a deep breath, smile, and rain on the fires of hate.
Each person has strife. No one’s life is perfection, But we’re God’s children.
As such, we are called To bear each other’s burdens. Embrace compassion.
What the world needs now Is more love and compassion. Start spreading it now!
Sermon Notes from today’s ZOOM worship service of the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church Delivered by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes taken by JanBeek
One With Us
Have you ever spoken honestly And in the process provoked A person to anger? Perhaps you even joked
About what you said. You’re trying to be forgiven. Be careful what you say and do. Beware the life you’re livin’.
Jesus was with a crowd Of sinners at the Jordan. What had Jesus done to need Forgiveness? What secrets hoardin’?
Sometimes we find ourselves Guilty by association. So Jesus had reason to be Thought a sinner by the Jewish nation.
John the Baptist, however, Knew Jesus was sinless. So he didn’t want to baptize Him. But his protest was winless!
Jesus was determined to be Baptized by John, even though He was sin-free. So we wonder, Why did He need it? Want to know?
He wanted to be baptized In order to be One with us! Like Him, we need to be One in Christ and eliminate fuss!
If Jesus was willing To step down and be One With all of us sinners, Who are we, when all’s said and done?
We are all sinners, invited To come to the river, too. Be one with our brothers and sisters. I’m all for it. How about you?
The sermon was inspired by the scriptures: Acts 19:1-7 and Mark 1:4-11 which were eloquently read to us by our pastor’s wife, Elaine, from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message Bible”
ACTS 19 1-2 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?”
“We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?”
3 “How were you baptized, then?” asked Paul.
“In John’s baptism.”
4 “That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.”
5-7 And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.
MARK 4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
God of all mercy, in our baptism You have marked us as Your own; You have given us a new identity and made us part of the body of Christ. In doing so, You have called us to rise to new life and live together in community. However, we have not been faithful to Your call. We have forged our own identity and held to destructive habits. We confess we have failed to welcome others, and broken our bonds with our brothers and sisters, and served ourselves more than You. Forgive us, we pray, for the sake of Christ, our Savior.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: John 1:12
Hear the good news! God said to Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with You I am well pleased.” We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted as we are, yet is without sin.
In Christ’s name we may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, and there find mercy and grace to help in time of need.
As forgiven sinners, may we go out into the world and make a positive difference. May we…
If you have not heard former Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s You Tube message today, I recommend you click on the link here. His message, reinforcing the need for UNITY in our USA, is quite powerful. God Bless Arnie! We all need to step up in support of Democracy as he has done!
Teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites. Right?
See that young man on the left up there? His name is Ty. He is my favorite!
(Well, in honesty… don’t be dismayed if you’re one of my students…. I have lots of favorites, OK? But Ty… well, read on!)
Ty was my kindergarten student in 1962-3. Every day when he stepped off the school bus, the girls all stopped what they were doing. “Hi Ty!” they would swoon. Yes, even kindergarten girls recognize a sweetheart when they see one!
And every day when it was time to go home, the girls all waved to Ty, “Bye, Ty!” they would swoon.
I was a newlywed. It was my second year of teaching. I decided if I had a boy someday, I would name him Ty. And I did!
Ah yes, my Ty is a sweetheart, just like his namesake!
So why the HOPE title?
Yesterday I heard the devastating news that my favorite student, Ty, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It has metastasized. He needs our prayers. My heart is heavy, but I am a believer… and HOPE is what believers do, right?
Day before yesterday I posted this scripture:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
I know God has Ty tucked into the palm of His hand, just as He holds our world in His hand.
I know God is watching over Ty and his treatment process. But, won’t you add your prayers to mine? “Dear Lord, please give healing to Ty.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
It’s a day when we in the USA Are feeling particularly vulnerable. A day when we ponder the meaning Of the troublesome events of yesterday.
It was a day of Troubled Waters When our fragile democracy Seemed on the brink of collapse, A day some imagined, but not I.
I knew we were a country deeply divided, A country needing a renewed sense of unity, But never did I think our Capitol Would be under siege by our own people.
Not just one of the rioters was killed in the debacle, but 3 health care workers also lost their lives.
In the aftermath, when the Senate and Assembly resumed their stations and continued the task of counting the electoral votes, a new sense of purpose seemed to emerge.
It took an attack on our democracy for our lawmakers to unify and recognize the importance of our constitution. The tone was bipartisan. The future is hopeful.
A ray of hope for the unification of this divided country was launched yesterday.
A seed of collaboration was planted.
Yesterday I posted a meme that read: “We’ve tried hate. We’ve tried wars. We’ve tried destruction. They only caused more pain. Let’s try something different…”
…and the “different” was peace love empowerment collaboration.
Today let’s reinforce that commitment. Let’s try Open and Honest Communication, Building bridges instead of walls, LET’S EMBRACE UNITY!
EMBRACE UNITY! Let’s honor One Nation Under God. One world for us all, One CREATOR of us all.
Back in 1970, Paul Simon was inspired to write the words to the song, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” The video below is the story of how that song came to be. The words are just what we need today… A Bridge Over [these] Troubled Waters.
Let’s Embrace UNITY. Let’s see how that turns out!
I hope you took time to hear that You.Tube story. It’s powerful. Believe me, the song is just what we need today.
“When you’re weary Feeling small, When tears are in your eyes I’ll dry them all. I’m on your side. Oh, when times get rough And friends just can’t be found, Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down. Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down. When you’re down and out When you’re on the street, When evening falls so hard I will comfort you. I’ll take your part. Oh, when darkness comes And pain is all around, Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down… Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down. Sail on silver girl Sail on by… More
In today’s Daily Guideposts 2021, the writer, Amy Eddings, wrote about a time when she prayed relentlessly for guidance and courage – and felt her prayers were going unanswered. Have you ever felt that you were praying relentlessly for something and your request(s) seemed to be falling on deaf ears?
I remember last year when Australia was on fire and so many animals were dying and losing their habitats. I prayed along with the rest of our world for rain… but the fires raged on.
I have recently been praying incessantly for our Pastor Nominating Committee at our church. If you have followed my blog for awhile, you have read my sermon notes on Sunday from our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church. You know our pastor of 32 years died a year ago and we have a wonderful temporary pulpit fill who came out of retirement to help us. Rev. Hundley needs to be able to re-retire. So, we are searching for a solo pastor and I am praying hard. I believe in the power of prayer – and I believe in God’s perfect timing. Don’t you?
So, will you add my prayer request to your prayer list? “Lord, help the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church Pastor Nominating Committee find the person God already has in mind for us. Help them find the right new pastor to lead the congregation into renewed spiritual growth in 2021.”
My husband, Bob, has been praying incessantly, too. He is on our church’s leadership board and as such is the “elder” in charge of Buildings and Grounds. Our church owns an old church that is about 10 miles out of Ennis in a tiny little village called McAllister. The church was built in the 1880’s. MVPC uses it once a year to maintain its tax-free status as a “place of worship.” It is in a serene country setting on a little over an acre of land. It has electricity, but no water or septic system. The church is for sale. We’re praying for the right buyer.
Please add this to your prayer list, too, will you? “Lord, send the right buyer to Rikki at Berkshire-Hathaway in Ennis, MT – a person who will treasure this historic building and use it for wholesome purposes.”
When we EMBRACE PRAYER and pray with a right spirit, God hears, God cares, God answers.
Philippians 4:6,7: Pray about everything
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”
1 John 5:14: God always hears
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
GOD BLESS YOU and keep you safe and healthy. That’s my prayer for you today.
Thanks for visiting JanBeek. Have a blessed Monday. See ya tomorrow.
This is my favorite prayer… and I pray it fervently. It spells out my purpose in life … to be an instrument of God’s peace… TO SPREAD LOVE, FORGIVENESS, FAITH, HOPE, LIGHT AND JOY…
Today’s message from Rev. Steve Hundley at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana was titled “God’s Creative Word.”
The scripture reference was John 1:1-18 (with reinforcements from Genesis)
God’s Creative Word
Trying to decipher John’s Interpretation of Christ’s birth Is like trying to grasp smoke. He says God’s Word created the earth.
And he explained that the Word Was the Light and the Life – – – Rejoice! He speaks as John the Apostle And switches to a heavenly voice.
John strips away the layers covering The original Word of God to earth. He helps us hear with spiritual ears The meaning of Christ’s unusual birth.
The Book of John is ethereal As he shares God’s creative power. He emphasizes that saying is doing Words are like a bud that produces flower.
So, when we say something, We need to think of the impact Those words have on others. Words spoken ripple out – no taking them back!
Just as God’s Word has the power To create light out of darkness, Our words also have the power To create beauty out of starkness.
So, a lesson of John’s Gospel Is to warn us: Watch what you speak! If you speak untruths carelessly, The results will not be what you seek.
Life and death are in the power Of the tongue – – – We eat its fruit. If you want your daily meal sweet, Use your tongue’s power for Truth.
The Word became flesh and made His home among us – He appeared In the form of our Savior, Jesus. Start here – Start where darkness was cleared.
Be Light for a Dark World.
Everlasting God, remind us again that Your Son is the light of the world, the way, the truth, and the life. Lead us by your light and truth. Looking for Jesus, let us find Him knowing that it is He who has come looking for us.
Today’s sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley at Ennis, Montana’s Presbyterian Church was titled, “Swept Up in the Current of God’s Love.”
In my typical fashion, I listened and took notes in poetry to capture the message as I was received it.
I like this image for today’s bulletin cover because the message as I pondered it was: “Listen for the angels’ announcement. Listen with your heart, and Be swept up into the realms of JOY!”
Based on and reflections from Luke 1:39-55
Mary rushed to tell Elizabeth The anticipation of Jesus’ birth. But Elizabeth already knew it… Elizabeth knew it? How on earth??
Mary felt a song swell up And bubble over inside her. She sang acceptance and praises. Elizabeth beamed beside her.
We don’t think of God exploding Into our lives this season. Our upside-down world seems to forget The JOY, the Message, the Reason.
The story of Mary and Elizabeth Reminds us of the glories of the event. To make Christmas more meaningful, We need to focus on the love sent.
Mary and Elizabeth didn’t make the joy. They WERE the joy – growing in them. God’s presence exhibited the miracle. The peace and JOY of God began then.
We’re not the master of all this. The grace and love are gifts. We’re the grateful recipients. With Jesus’ birth, the world shifts.
The angels announced the Savior. The vulnerable baby was born. His life changed our destiny. No longer are we lost or forlorn.
Mary’s Magnificat is a message To all of us to be steady – Steady for Christ’s coming. Listen with your heart – be ready!
Be prepared to be swept away By the current of God’s love. Be prepared for that Bethlehem baby Who came to save us from above.
Yes, the angels announced that heavenly Baby Who came down from God to us. Now we’re awaiting the angel Who’ll announce an end to all this fuss.
No, Reverend Steve didn’t add that last stanza to his sermon… but I just couldn’t help myself! Don’t you love that COVID angel? No?
Ah, come on… let’s add the need for a freedom announcement.
Freedom from the pain of this pandemic. Freedom from the need to wear masks, socially distance, stay at home, and isolate.
Don’t let this Coronavirus get to you…
Don’t take to the bottle to try and drown the pain!!
Make wise decisions!
Keep your eyes and your ears tuned to the Holy Spirit and be ready to be “swept up in the current of God’s love.” Jesus’ birth is the reason for the season – And the grace and hope He brings will keep you swimming in love and joy. Believe!
The following poem came from Lisa yesterday as I was waiting for Bob’s angiogram results.
“Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.”
Jaime and Kathy played the piano and keyboard as Jim played the saw for some special music this morning.
I always imagine that saw being the only instrument some old cowboy had on hand in some distant days gone by… and learning to eerily try to play a tune on it must have been quite an interesting pastime!!
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
I hope you enjoyed these tidbits of my Sunday. Bee safe! See ya tomorrow. Bee well!!