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Our Daily Elder Blog

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Oh God, the healing of Your presence and Your peace that comes to us through Jesus Christ this season is beautiful.  Thank You, God, for coming into the world to teach the human race the most important of all behavioral lessons: When we accept God’s non-judgmental love, we receive the gifts of pardon from sin, the poise to cope with life’s difficulties, and the power to overcome, now and evermore.  What a beautiful way to live!  Amen.

John 10:10New King James Version (NKJV)

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Political Closings of Bridges and Roads

In September of 2013 several lanes of the George Washington Bridge were closed down causing massive traffic tie-ups to our part of New Jersey. Many people believe that Governor Christie was behind this to get revenge on the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing his election bid. For you who don’t live here, Fort Lee is the town in Jersey where the bridge is located. Others believe that it was his aids that did this without his knowledge. I don’t know how many thousands of citizens were inconvenienced by this closure. I hope that no ambulances were stuck in the traffic. Hopefully no one had endangered health because of this.

Now we have other roads and bridges closed in our area. This time protesters are angry that a grand jury did not indict a cop in the death of a man because of a chokehold administered during an arrest. Taxi drivers are complaining that they cannot maneuver the city to earn a living. One ill man was late getting to a hospital because a detour was required.

People on one end of the political spectrum are angry with Christie and/or his aids for closing a bridge for political gains. People of another political spectrum express anger at the protesters for closing roads and even the Brooklyn Bridge for political gain. No matter what political beliefs you have, can we not agree that it is wrong to harm the innocent as these protesters are doing?

The innocent are being hurt. People’s lives are being disrupted. Is this really how we wish to behave? Is the cost “just” if harm is being done to the innocent? Let us be carful how we act. Even if we do things for the right reason we might be hurting people. Is this really how we wish to act? Is disrupting the innocent really justice?

Our Daily Elder-Driven Devotion

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Be a Person of Excellence

Many people want to do as little as they possibly canned still get by.  But God did not create us to be mediocre.  He doesn’t want us to just barely get by, or to do what everybody else is doing.  God has called us to be people of excellence and integrity.  Indeed, the only way to be truly happy is to live with excellence and integrity.  Any hint of compromise will taint our greatest victories or our grandest achievements.

Remember: you represent Almighty God.  How you live, how you conduct your business and do your work, is all a reflection on our God.  If you want to live your best life now, start aiming for excellence in everything that you do.

Colossians 3:23-24New King James Version (NKJV)

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Christmas Pageants, St. Francis of Assisi and Home Nativities

Yesterday our Sunday school performed the annual Christmas Pageant. It was a wonderful event. As happens every year there were not quite enough rehearsals as our student’s attendance records are often not stellar. Adults fret over whether or not the pageant will come off well and parents scramble to get the younglings to the church on time for the rehearsal. Many anxious moments are spent over these plays but somehow they turn out just fine. St. Francis would be proud.

St. Francis? What does he have to do with these pageants?

It is believed that St. Francis was the first person to have a nativity play. In a mostly non-literate time he wanted to find a way to deliver the nativity message on Christmas Eve to people who did not read. He used parishioners to act the story out and in effect developed the first Christmas pageant and possibly even the first liturgical drama. He was quite a man.

As a fundraiser, and as a means of enabling families to re-tell the story in their homes, Franciscans sold small nativity sets to families throughout Europe and thus home nativity sets were born. Any of us who have home nativity sets during this time owe a debt of gratitude to St. Francis.

Our children, our teachers, those who transported our students all honored Jesus yesterday. And we owe a debt of gratitude to St. Francis of Assisi for giving us this wonderful idea. Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you, St. Francis.

Seven Troubadours of Christmas

Blog Number Fifty-Two

Seven of us traveled in five hours through seven communities and visited eight people. We brought songs of Christmas with us as well as Christmas cards designed by our Sunday school. We hope that we were a blessing to all those that we met.

I know that we were all blessed by taking this trip. There were times that tears came to our eyes as we watched the reactions of our homebound friends as we sang Christmas carols to them. Their faces were filled with gratitude and joy as we sang of God’s love in coming to earth.

During one stop at a rehabilitation facility, we had to sing our carols twice; once for the lady we came to see and then again for the other residents and a family member who heard the music and wanted to be a part of it. I’m glad we had extra songbooks for these new comers who sang along. At another, a roommate’s family joined in.

What seeds of faith might we have planted? One woman who was visiting her mother asked who we were and seemed delighted to receive my business card. Might we have reawakened faith in her? Might she explore faith?

Every one of us was happy to have done this but more than that, we felt blessed by doing it. We made a positive difference in the lives of others. Is there a better way to spend a day?

Our Daily Elder Devotional

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Dear Jesus, use my hands to be instruments of Your love and grace today, first to my loved ones and then to anyone You bring across my path.

Isaiah 35:3

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.

Cookies and Sewing Machines

Blog Number Fifty-One

What do cookies and sewing machines have to do with one another? At CARC they have everything to do with one another. On Sunday we will be holding a “cookie walk” to raise money for a sewing machine for one of the Reformed Church In America missions in India. Somehow this idea, envisioned and designed by our Wednesday’s Women, seems to fit the spirit of Christmas.

On a holiday that features cookies, we will be selling cookies from many different donors, many different types, but all a representative of the abundant joy that we know from Christmas.

On a holiday that is known for the giving of gifts beginning with the Magi bringing gifts to the Holy Family, we will be giving a gift to people in India looking to establish cottage industries for self-sustenance.

I encourage everyone who reads this to come, participate, and donate to this program. If you are unable to attend, please donate to this worthy cause. Above every gift that you will give this Christmas, this gift will be a gift that really will bless.

Daily Elder Devotion

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Joy Is Your Strength

You need to understand that the enemy is not really after your dreams, your health, or your finances.  He’s not primarily after your family.  He’s after your joy.  The Bible says that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV), and your enemy knows if he can deceive you into living down in the dumps and depressed, you are not going to have the necessary strength—physically, emotionally, or spiritually—-to withstand his attacks.

When you rejoice in the midst of your difficulties, you are giving the enemy a black eye.  He doesn’t know what to do with people who keep giving God praise despite their circumstances.  Learn how to smile and laugh.  Quit being so uptight and stressed out.  Make your choice to enjoy your life to the fullest today, and to make each moment count!

Proverbs 17:22New International Version (NIV)

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Psalm 68:3New International Version (NIV)

But may the righteous be glad

and rejoice before God;

may they be happy and joyful.

Psalm 86:4New International Version (NIV)

Bring joy to your servant, Lord,

for I put my trust in you.

John 15:10-11New King James Version (NKJV)

10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. My heart and my portion forever.

Signs

I saw deer tracks on the front lawn today as I took out the recycling. The tracks started on the grass next to the driveway, went along the grass, next to the house and toward the brook. I haven’t seen the deer in at least a week and wondered if they were still around. Now I know that they are. Tracks are signs of the presence of deer.

So when we don’t see God physically what “tracks” do we see to know that God is real and that God is close to us?

When we see people taking “vacations” and spending their own money to risk their lives in dangerous places to care for sick people we sing a track of God.

When people take time to bring communion in the name of the Lord without compensation we are seeing a track of God.

When individuals and families care about the poor and impoverished that they have never even met and fund raise for them, we are seeing signs of God.

Need to see God? There are signs of his presence all around us. Come and worship the one who dwells with us and leaves marks all around us.

Daily Elder Devotions

Our Daily Elder Devotional

We claim no originality for these devotions. One of our elders searches various sources and finds a daily devotion. Consider this a gift from Clinton Avenue Reformed Church: www.clintonave.org.

Good morning!  Today I am encouraged to share two devotionals with you from Joel Ostend’s “Your Best Life Begins Each Morning”.

Keep Doing What is Right

During the late 1950s, my father was the successful pastor of a large congregation that had just built a brand-new sanctuary.  But about that time, my sister Lisa was born with a birth injury, something similar to cerebral palsy.  That was one of the darkest hours of my parents’ lives.  They searched the Scriptures, and their eyes were opened to the message of healing.  However, the idea of a contemporary, miracle-working God was not received well by the church, and my heartbroken  father eventually left that church and had to start all over with ninety other people in an abandoned feed store.

In that dark time, Daddy kept doing what he knew was right.  God was preparing him for greater things.

Psalm 130:5-6New King James Version (NKJV)

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

And in His word I do hope.

6  My soul waits for the Lord

More than those who watch for the morning—

Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

Times of Preparation

On Mother’s Day 1959, my father and mother opened Lakewood Church in a rundown building with holes in the floor.  For nearly thirteen years that tiny congregation hardly grew at all.  It was an extremely dry season in my father’s life.  He had gone from speaking to thousands of people to laboring in obscurity.  But God was doing a work in my father, and those years were a time of testing.  Daddy knew if he remained faithful in the tough times, God would promote him, which is exactly what happened.  Millions of people have been touched through the ministry of Lakewood Church.

When you go through a long period of time when you don’t see anything good happening, just stay faithful; keep a smile on your face, and keep doing what you know is right.  God is preparing you for greater things.

Psalm 73:26 New King James Version (NKJV)

26 My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.