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5/23/20
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “A Greater Love”💎
Memorial Day is a time to show our appreciation to our veterans and current military and their families. Many Memorial Day celebrations will take place around our communities this Monday. I have a great appreciation for our military and all who have served. The military is based on the foundational virtue of service: service to our country, community, and fellow soldier. This virtue seems to be diminishing in our “what’s in it for me” society. Many of us look first to our own interests, needs, and wants. Service to others seems to take a back seat.
Jesus reminds us in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus sets the bar high as he reminds us that great love involves great sacrifice. Albert Einstein noted, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Our best life involves helping and assisting others. I invite you to take some time this Memorial Day weekend to reflect upon the gift of sacrifice that many have given. Let’s not just stop there, but may we offer ourselves to others in a way that will be helpful and useful. May God bless you and your families! --Dave

5/16/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Grateful”💎
I am grateful for a congregation that is growing as we will add 24 new members to our church family this Sunday. These people come from various backgrounds and situations, yet they all have one thing in common—they have found our church to be a place of welcome and spiritual growth. Jesus gave this invitation to all people, “Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens” (Matthew 11:28). The way of Jesus is the way of grace and renewal. There are times when we come to Jesus worn out, with a limp in our step, and heaviness upon our shoulders. This invitation to come to him is an invitation to bring our anxieties and cast our worries upon Christ. It is such a great relief to know that it is not up to us and that we have someone much greater than us to help us through this journey of life. As we come to Jesus, may we find in him a relationship that encourages our faith and helps us grow as people of God. I am grateful to be a part of a welcoming and fun congregation which is alive and inviting new people into our fellowship. –Dave



 

5/9/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Adaptability”💎
What makes a good mom? A recent Google search indicates the top answers to this question: someone who is nurturing, present, and has empathy for her children. I am grateful for a wonderful mom and hope the same is true with you. One of my mom’s greatest qualities is her ability to adapt to a variety of places where we have lived as a family. I was born in the small native village of Hoonah, Alaska, located on a remote island in southeast Alaska with a population of 700.  Our family also lived in Concord, California, located just 40 miles east of San Francisco with a population of 100,000. If you ask my mom what has been her favorite place to live she will answer, “I have enjoyed all of the places we have lived.” She has the great gift of adaptability. There is a neat verse tucked away in Proverbs 31 where King Solomon is writing about the attributes of a virtuous woman. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; and she can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25). The phrase “she can laugh at the days to come” indicates a person who has a non-anxious and adaptable nature. We don’t always know what the future will bring and we can’t always predict the next twist or turn of events in life. But when we can approach the future with laughter and joy, we will live a life that brings fulfillment and flexibility. My prayer is that you can laugh at the days to come. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave


5/2/24

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Sanity Restored”💎
Do you ever feel that your life is out of control? Ever feel as if you are barely hanging on? Our small group that meets on Sunday nights came across an incredible insight from scripture last Sunday evening. We were studying Daniel 4 where King Nebuchadnezzar had grown the Babylonian empire into the wealthiest, most powerful, and most sophisticated kingdom at the time. It was King Nebuchadnezzar who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his wife, to help raise her spirits and alleviate her homesickness. These Gardens are identified as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The King’s success and pride that build the great city of Babylon also led to his demise and fall and caused him to lose everything. We find him lost, confused, alone, and wayward as his kingdom begins to crumble.
There is a great nugget of truth that is found at the very end of this chapter. The scriptures tell us, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored” (Daniel 4:34). What an remarkable passage that tells us of an incredible truth. When we take our eyes off of God and focus on our own selfish desires, chaos and confusion can rule our lives. Like the King we can become lost, discouraged, and disoriented. But when we look to God and find our source of hope and strength in the Lord, our sanity is restored. The calm and steady presence of the Lord gives us the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner. What a gift we have from the Lord. Remember to look up and find in God the one who can bring calm out of chaos and peace out of despair. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave



4/25/24
💎
Dave’s Diamonds: “The Fringe”💎
There are many people who feel like they live on the fringe...the fringe of society, the fringe of popularity, or even the fringe of acceptance. Some live on the fringes of a city, many receive fringe benefits, and even a few wear their hair in a fringe. Fringe, by definition, means the outer edges of an area, product, or social group. Image the woman who we learn about in Mark 5 who has been sick and tired for 12 years. She has seen doctor after doctor, yet instead of getting any better her condition is growing worse. She hears of Jesus and his amazing power to heal and restore people to health. She thinks to herself, Why not? As she approaches Jesus she says to herself, Even if I just get close and touch the outer fringe of his garment, I will be made well (Mark 5:28). Because of her medical condition she lived on the fringe, pushed away by society and ostracized by her family. And yet it was the fringe of Jesus that she touches and as a result she received healing. You and I have written people off, have pushed some to the outer edges of our friend groups, and haven’t given them much of a chance. But Jesus does. He allows the marginalized to come close to find in him the one who can do something that no one else can. Jesus invites us to come close, touch his fringe, and find in him the one who can make all things new. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave




4/18/24

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “I’ll Be Back”💎

The phrase “I’ll be back” is famously connected with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1984 movie The Terminator. This saying has become a catchphrase for many over the past 40 years. Long before this phrase was made famous by Schwarzenegger, Jesus uttered similar words. But instead of these words being seen as a threat, they are words of promise, and in my opinion one of the greatest promises we have in all of scripture. Jesus says to his disciples in John 14:2. “I will come back and take you to be with me.” Allow these words to sink in a little bit. Read and reread them several times. Jesus himself will come back and take us to be with him. He is not going to send an associate or a servant. He will come back to us in his own personal rescue mission to bring us back to God. We will arrive in heaven to the welcome of our savor and redeemer Jesus. What an incredible promise. Do you ever wonder what the transition to heaven will be like? We are assured that we will have our own tour guide and our own representative to help us through this process. I am comforted by this promise and thankful for God’s provisions to be with us all that way to the finish line. Yes, with love in his heart and compassion in his eyes, our risen Savior says “I’ll be back.” Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Pastor Dave


 

4/11/24

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Too Hard”💎
Have you ever quit something because it was just too hard? Maybe a job was too demanding, a sport too strenuous, or a relationship too challenging. Most of us have gotten to the point where we just can’t do it any longer. I worked as a commercial fisherman during my college years in Alaska and considered many times about giving up due to the long hours and difficult work. I have realized that these challenging times mold and shape us into who we are and prepare us in handling obstacles that come our way.  Jesus found himself in a tough spot in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to his arrest and crucifixion. He pleads with God, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). God’s gift of salvation for all of humanity was not only precured on the cross, but fought for in the Garden of Gethsemane. Imagine if Jesus gave up in the Garden and walked away from the hard road that was in front of him. Imagine if he said “I can’t do this any longer” and decided to go a different direction, an easier path. Jesus fought through these feelings and brought forth our salvation. Thanks be to God that Jesus didn’t say it was too hard, too demanding, or too strenuous. He got through the pain in order that we might experience the gain of new and eternal life. May we find a greater strength from the Lord who endured the cross and paid the price for our sins. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Pastor Dave

4/4/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Get Through?”💎
Did you get through Easter? I have been asked this question several times in the past few days. Get through? I know what the intentions are with this question as Easter is a busy time for pastors with lots of people and activities in the church. Our Easter celebration here at FPC was incredibly fun and fulfilling. But, to use the phrase “get through” seems to suggest that Easter is something to endure, overcome, or even conquer. We get through an illness, a strenuous workout, or a difficult project at work. We get through a tough stretch in a relationship, a calculus class, or even completing our taxes. To “get through” suggests that we put whatever we are getting through in the rear view mirror of our lives and say good riddance to it. But should we get through Easter?  As people of faith, we live with Easter hope and the power of the resurrection of Jesus every day. Instead of getting through Easter, I want to suggest that we are better off when we get to integrate Easter into our lives every day. Each day brings its own set of challenges and obstacles, and the Easter promise of our Risen Savior is there to guide and lead us. We are reminded of this incredible gift of God’s power in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Let’s not put Easter behind us; rather let’s allow Easter to direct our steps, enliven our spirits, and empower us with God’s abilities. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Pastor Dave

 

March 2024
“Spiritual Shape”

Most of us are fairly conscientious when it comes to our physical health. We try to watch what we eat and work to maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise, diet, and rest. Some of you walk, run, bike, treadmill, swim, do cross fit, Pilates, yoga, aerobics, or lift weights. We are good at concentrating on our physical bodies, but do you ever think about exercising your spiritual muscles? The spiritual body, like the physical body, needs to be exercised. I find that unless the spirit is nurtured and stimulated, it is easy to become complacent in our walk with Jesus Christ.  The season of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, provides a good time to work on our spiritual lives. This season provides a time to reflect and renew our relationship with God and recommit our lives to the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ. With our physical bodies, we have to be intentional about going for a walk or getting to the gym. The same intentionality is true with the Spirit. Here are some ways I would like to encourage you to exercise your spiritual muscles during this special season:
* Daily Devotions: Take a few minutes each day to read some scripture and pray. We offer a free Lenten devotional to help with this exercise. You can also jump on the YouVersion Bible App that provides daily encouragement.  
* Sunday school class– I am co-leading a class with Dr. Andrew Wingerson titled, “Living Your Best Life” as we explore ways to have a healthy life physically, spiritually, and mentally. Come to discover ways to live your best life.
* Sunday worship provides a good time to gather with others to be renewed in our faith. I am preaching a series titled, “Thy Will Be Done.” I have found that God’s way of doing things is far better than my own.
* Join one of our six Refuel small groups to grow closer to God and others or one of our other study groups. I hope you will take part in some of the things we offer to help promote your spiritual growth. Come and join us as we get into shape and grow in our relationship with God. I look forward to worshipping with you either in person on on-line on the next Lord’s Day.
Blessings,
Pastor Dave



3/28/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Personal Invitation”💎
The news on that first Easter morning began to spread slowly through Jesus’ closest followers. The first women who came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, went back to tell Peter and John. They in turn went back and told the other disciples. Two men who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus told others, who told others, who told others. There was no press conference, no Facebook post, no Instagram message, just by word of mouth from one person to the next. I have discovered the best way to share Jesus is by word of mouth as we tell others what Jesus has done for us. I am happy to tell others of the significance Jesus gives me, so much more valuable than any product I can buy. I am eager to tell others of the peace that comes in knowing Jesus and his presence in difficult situations. It gives me joy to share with others the incredible gift of eternal life that is available to those who put their trust and faith in him.  I would encourage you to invite someone with you to worship this Easter Sunday. Through your personal invitation, you might just open someone to a different way of life, a better way of life. I look forward to Sunday and sharing the difference we can experience in knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior and putting our trust in him. Jesus tells his followers in John 14:19, “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also.” What a great promise to remember and share! I look forward to Easter and the great hope that we have in Jesus. –Pastor Dave
 

3/21/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Mission Trip”💎
I have had the privilege of traveling to Israel twice in my life. My first trip was with a group of pastors in 2009 and the second was with a number of people from our church in 2018. I would love to plan a third trip when things settle down a little bit in that area. Both trips were great experiences and enabled me to see the Holy Land up close and personal. A pastor friend of mine who traveled with us in 2009 said, “Before this trip I read the Bible in black and white, but now I read it in color as these places have become more real and relevant to me.” So true!  I still can remember the first time I saw the city of Jerusalem with my own eyes. We were traveling in a bus from the city of Jericho west toward Jerusalem. As we made that long climb up to Jerusalem and as we crested the final hill, I was mesmerized by the gold Dome of the Rock that has become one of the most iconic structures in all the world. It is the place where the temple used to sit, before the Muslims began construction of the Dome in AD 685.  My trips to Jerusalem have been motivated by both education and pleasure. Jesus last trip to Jerusalem was motivated by mission. While in Galilee, Jesus knows that his time is approaching for his final mission project to be completed. He sets his sights on Jerusalem and makes the 80 mile trek to the capitol city. We are told in Luke 9:51 that Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem.” This statement marks a turning point in Jesus’ life as he sets his sights on the redemption work of salvation for humanity. As Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem, he views it as a mission trip of restoration. As we journey through Holy Week with Palm Sunday approaching, may we see God’s mission and ministry carried out through the cross and the empty tomb. –Pastor Dave

 

3/14/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Press On”💎
“I can’t go any further,” our daughter Erin exclaimed years ago on a family hike to Mystic Lake. She was seven years old at the time and had reached the end of her rope as we were about ¾ of the way to the lake. For those who have made this hike, we were in the area where there are a number of rocks that one must traverse along the trail. It is the hardest and steepest part of the climb. Just the other day she commented about her distaste for hiking and attributed it back to this experience in 2013.  Do you ever feel like you have reached the end of your rope and can’t go any further? We all, like Erin, have had those moments, days, and seasons in our lives. It is in those moments that we need people around us to cheer us on and encourage us in our journey. The apostle Paul does this for me as he writes in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The phrase “press on” is taken from a Greek word that means “bearing down upon.” This word refers to a runner who is bearing down upon the finish line in a race and is setting his or her eyes on the finish line. The athlete runs with a determined focus and a final kick, concentrating on the tape marking the end of the race.
You may be tired and weary, your muscles may ache, and you may not have enough energy to make it any further. I am grateful that we have people like the apostle Paul to encourage us to “press on” for the prize that awaits us in Christ. Keep a determined focus in your faith, even more so as we approach the finish line. The award will be worth it! –Pastor Dave

 


2/29/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Bonus Day”💎
Happy Leap Day, a bonus day on our calendars. Most of us like a bonus. Exceptional workers receive bonus pay, game shows have bonus rounds, and parents might have a bonus baby. Today is kind of like finding extra fries at the bottom of the McDonald’s sack, something above and beyond the normal routine. Karen Morrow, one of our church’s preschool directors, is celebrating her 13th birthday today. We like to joke that she has finally reached teenage status!  I hope you will use this bonus day to do something above and beyond for someone else. You have 24 extra hours, 1,440 extra minutes, and 86,400 extra seconds to use today. Think about something you can do in response to God’s generosity and kindness as Jesus has gone above and beyond for us. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory for ever and ever!” What an incredible verse that reminds us of God’s ability to work above our expectations and beyond our imaginations. Let’s use this day to help a neighbor, call a friend, send a note, or some other creative way you can do to help another. Enjoy this special day…what a bonus! –Pastor Dave

 

2/22/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Steps”💎
Greetings from Dubuque, Iowa, a city with a population of about 60,000 that sits on the banks of the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa. Dubuque is a special place for our family as it is where my parents have lived the past five years and where Vicki and I called home during my seminary days from 1993-1996. In the past week, it was fun visiting First Presbyterian Church where Vicki and I were active, the campus where I attended seminary, and seeing places like HyVee, Piggly Wiggly, and Happy Joes. This trip back to Dubuque is certainly different than what we experienced in the early 90s. To be honest, those days are much different than these days some 30 years later. Those days consisted of no children, little money, and some anxiety of where we would land upon graduation. But looking back we can certainly see God’s hand in directing us and leading us to where we are today. I am grateful for people, churches, and circumstances that have guided us through the years, and thankful for God’s hand in leading us to Billings. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”  You may be anxious about your future or unsure of what the coming days will bring. But trust God’s process and commit your steps to him. Your life may take some unexpected twists and turns along the way, but with the Lord at the wheel your days will be blessed. –Pastor Dave


2/15/24

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Your Turn”💎

The season of Lent began yesterday with the observation of Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 day period of spiritual preparation and practice in the days leading up to Easter. I hope you will use this time to work on one spiritual practice. All too often we try to do many things, instead of concentrating on just one thing well. Maybe you want to work on your patience; perhaps you want to hone your habit of daily Bible reading; or you might want to strengthen your service muscle by doing things for others. There are lots of possibilities in this season and I invite you to choose something in particular. Last night at our Ash Wednesday service I shared the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet in John 13. After Jesus washes their feet, he says to them, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15). I hear Jesus saying to us, “Your turn!” Now it is up to you to do something, to make improvements, to hone your skills to serve, and grow closer to the Lord. What a great example Jesus gives and what a great way that he empowers us to serve. It’s your turn! –Pastor Dave


2/8/24

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Seated”💎

Everywhere you look in the Bible, God seems to be sitting around. Did you know that there are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about God seated…seated on the judgment seat, seated at the banquet table, and seated on the Great White Throne? That’s a lot of sitting! I’m not one who likes to sit still too long and I think that those who sit around are a bit lazy. Does all of this sitting suggest that God is lazy? Vicki shared with me a post she found recently about God sitting. It read, “Our King is seated. He’s not frantically pacing. He’s not anxious or nervous. He’s not unsettled or scared. He is seated, steady, secure” (author unknown). This quote resonates with me as it reassures me of the steady and steadfast presence of God. We may fly off the handle; we may allow stress to get the best of us; we may let worry creep into our lives, but God is steady and secure. The prophet Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” What a great promise and trust to rest upon. God is seated, steady, secure, and steadfast. In the craziness that sometimes life can bring, this is reassuring news. Know of God’s hope and promise for you!  –Pastor Dave


2/1/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Just For One”💎

Arthur and Liezl Pienaar were with us this week on several occasions to share about their incredible and life-changing mission work in Zambia, Africa. Arthur made a statement on Tuesday afternoon that stuck with me. He said that their mission team would be willing to go into the remotest of all villages of Africa for the sake of one person hearing the message about Jesus Christ. Imagine the planning and expense to rally a group of missionaries for the sake of just one person in a far reaching village of Zambia. Jesus valued the ministry to the sole person. Most of Jesus’ teachings were to either individuals or a small group of people. In Luke 15, Jesus shares a parable about a shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep behind for the sake of finding the one lost sheep. In this parable, Jesus asks, “Doesn’t the shepherd leave the ninety-nine in the open country to go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4). The shepherd is willing to risk the 99 for the sake of the one. Jesus values the person and Jesus values you. You may feel rejected by others or pushed away by family. You may be feeling that your skills are outdated or your age has you questioning your value or worth. You may be wondering how God would know you as one person among the 7.88 billion around the globe. But as Arthur shared about going into the remotest of all places just for one person, so would Jesus. You are valuable; you matter to the Lord; your life was redeemed on the cross. I hope you will know this truth and live into it. –Pastor Dave

 

1/25/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Many Members”💎
As many of you know, we have been dealing with some issues with our heating system at the church. I am happy to announce that the issues seems to be resolved, thanks to some xperts from a local industrial heating company. This issue has been going on for several weeks as we have had intermittent heat throughout the building. Many of you can attest to that as it was 54 degrees in the sanctuary a week ago last Sunday. It brings a whole new meaning to us Presbyterians as being the Frozen Chosen people of God. 😊  I am grateful for people in my life who know a lot more than me. I was at a loss when it came to fixing our heating issues and am happy that there are those in our community who are trained and equipped to get the job done. We are fortunate to be surrounded by doctors, therapists, mechanics, pharmacists, arborists, teachers, coaches, accountants, musicians, nurses, computer technicians, and others who are trained in specific areas of expertise. The Bible reminds us that “the body does not consist of one member, but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:14). You many not be an expert in heating or technology, but you have a gift and your gift is important to the larger body of Christ. On Sunday, at our annual meeting, we will celebrate a congregation who contributes to the larger body, using our gifts for the greater good in the kingdom of God. I appreciate you and the ways you contribute to the Lord’s work. -Dave


1/18/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Departure”💎

My alarm sounded yesterday morning at 4:45am. I usually don’t get up that early, but yesterday was different. I had to run a friend to the airport to catch a departing flight for Florida. I admit that there was a bit of envy in my bones and I said goodbye to him, knowing that he was headed to a place of warmer weather, palm trees, and sandy beaches. Departure is a word that crosses my mind every now and then, especially when I think about flying. Departure means “the action of leaving, especially to start a journey.” I find it both interesting and comforting that when the apostle Paul is nearing death, he uses the word departure to talk about his future. He writes, “The time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7). He doesn’t say the time for my death is near or the time for my demise is close, but rather he uses the word departure. When we transition to eternal life, we start a new journey, a new adventure. What hope there is for those of us who believe, as we anticipate a place where there is no more pain or suffering. This place is even better than Florida, it’s heaven. May we live with confidence in the future and look forward to what awaits us in our final departure. -Dave

 

1/11/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Unforced”💎
I was on a ride along with the Billings Police Department several years ago when officers responded to a call of domestic violence. Yelling and shouting could be heard inside the house, but no one came to answer the door. The officer I was with suggested that unless the residents come and open the door, the officers will have to force their way in. It was a highly volatile situation and am glad that it was resolved without injury.  I’m grateful that Jesus doesn’t force himself upon us. Our relationship with him is not coerced, mandated, or obligatory. There is a neat exchange between Jesus and two of his disciples and they approach the small town of Emmaus after Jesus’ resurrection. Luke writes, “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them” (Luke 24:28-30).  Jesus acted like he was going further, waiting for them to invite him in. So it is with us. Jesus is one who stands at the door and knocks and waits for us to open the door. No forced entry. It is my prayer for you in this new year that you will open the door and allow Jesus in. He is ready and waiting and if you open the door and allow him in your life will never be the same. -Dave


1/4/24
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Resolutions”💎

Are you one who makes a New Year’s resolution? Many resolve to lose weight, eat healthier, spend less, save more, change a bad habit, spend more time with family, be more patient, be less anxious, and the list goes on and on. It’s been said that a New Year’s resolution is simply a “to do list” for the first two weeks of the new year. Even though many resolve to make changes in the new year, about 75% of all resolutions fail to take effect. Do you know why? Because change is hard! Whether you are Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, atheist, or agnostic we have a hard time changing our ways. We become set in routines, personality styles, driving habits, and eating preferences. Trying to make lasting changes to our lives is almost impossible. But it is in the impossible where God comes in. We are told in scripture that “All things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26). This is a bold and profound statement. All things, not some things or a few things, but all things. Our God is a God of possibilities, potential, and promises.

I invite you to invite God into your new year, allowing God to come into your life to help you make lasting changes. Be specific in asking God to help with you certain things and seek to make those changes. God is there to help lead, guide, and encourage you into this new year. I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us! –Pastor Dave


12/7/23

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Recognition”💎

Vicki and I attended the year end awards and recognition banquet for Erin’s Skyview volleyball team on Tuesday evening. The freshmen through varsity teams were recognized and players were awarded for the abilities and contributions to their respective teams. Awards included Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year. Engraved plaques and calligraphized certificates were distributed. It was a special night to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the high school volleyball season.

As I was sitting there listening to the coaches talk about their players, I couldn’t help but think about how little recognition Jesus received at his birth. No one of special importance was present. There was no fanfare, no bright lights, no parade, or accolades. Even the place where Jesus was born was of little significance. Long before Jesus’ birth, the prophet Micah shared these words about what was to come of this small town. “But you, Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2). This small, insignificant, unimportant hamlet becomes front and center for the incredible gift of God’s incarnation through Jesus.

We live in a world where we want to be noticed, recognized, and acknowledged. Some base their approval ratings on the number of “likes” they get from a Facebook post or an Instagram message. However, Jesus’ entrance into our world gives us an example how we should live—as one who takes on a supporting role, as one who needs not be the center of attention, as one who deflects glory and accolades to someone else. If we are able to do this, we will begin to live as Jesus lived. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. Dave



11/16/23
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “In All Circumstances”💎
It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well. It’s easy to be grateful when our health is good, the stock market is up, and the weather is nice. But life doesn’t always give us a fair shake. We have setbacks, injuries, medical issues, and problems. Relationships with family and friends can be messy and Murphy can come knocking anytime. When life takes a negative turn, when the storm front approaches, and when the diagnoses comes back positive, our emotions can get the best of us. Yet, we have this invitation from the apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I invite you to read this sentence several times and let the words sink in. Give thanks in all circumstances. Read these words again a bit slower, Give…thanks…in…all…circumstances.  Now let’s concentrate on a few words in this sentence. The word “in” suggests that we are to give thanks during or in the middle of the circumstance. The word “all” suggests that we are to have a thankful heart amid a wide and encompassing range of conditions: good, bad, and ugly. As Thanksgiving approaches next week, let’s try to take this approach. Instead of becoming bitter, let’s strive for better. Instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s look for the positive. Instead of seeing what is wrong with our situation, remember to thank God for what is right. And as we learn at the end of this verse, this is the will of God for our lives. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave


11/9/23
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Cheerful”💎
Property tax statements, mill levy requests, and church stewardship appeals all seem to have arrived at the same time. Everyone seems to want a piece of your pie. If you are like me, my first response to all of these requests for money is not positive. I can easily go into the scarcity mode of thinking: Will we have enough? How much can I give? What if the stock market crashes? What if an emergency comes our way? These things all cause me to want to pull back on the reins and clinch my hands a little tighter. I am a natural saver and have to work at giving. But here is what I have discovered over the years. The more generous I am, the happier I am; the more I open my hands to others, the better I sleep at night; and the better attitude I have about giving, the better I feel about myself. The apostle Paul has discovered the very same truths. He writes in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” There is a truth at work in our generosity: the more we give the greater we are blessed, and the more we open our hands the greater God fills our lives with abundance. Let us give with a generous and cheerful heart. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave


10/26/23

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “The Right Tools”💎
Have you ever found yourself with the wrong tool for the job? Several weeks back I got a flat tire on the trailer we use for lawn mowing. The lug wrench in the pickup was not the right size for the lug nuts on the trailer. My 13/16” lug wrench would not work the 7/8” trailer nuts. I tried to jimmy the wrench onto the nuts, just needing 1/16” more room. But to no avail, it didn’t work. I tried my next best option, my favorite tool in my tool box: the Channel-Lock plyers. The nuts were on too tight to free them with the plyers. I went to the next best option: vise grips.  They too were of no help. I dug through my limited tools remaining in my box, searching for a crescent wrench or socket set. The right tools I needed, I did not have. I unhooked the trailer, drove home, and picked up the correct lug wrench and returned to the trailer and changed the tire.  We are told in James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” God equips us with good tools… like patience, kindness, and self-control. God’s tools are helpful, useful, and practical as we navigate through life. I am grateful for God who gives us the best tools, culminating in Jesus Christ, the perfect gift for all of us. May we tap into God’s resources as we grow in our faith and to help others. Stay strong and encouraged. –Dave


 

10/19/23

💎Dave’s Diamonds: “Temporary”💎

Several year ago I was experiencing sharp pain from an infected tooth. I tried to stave off the deep discomfort with a healthy dose of Aleve, but after several days I called my dentist and made an appointment. After a few x-rays were taken, Dr. Murdock came in and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Dave, we will take care of this. The pain you are experiencing is only temporary.” In that moment, the word temporary became my favorite word in the English language. Temporary, by definition, means “not permanent” or “only lasting for a limited period of time.”  Isn’t it good to remember that what we are going through is only temporary: the sickness, the relational issue, the family dysfunction, the recovery from injury, the disease, the addiction, or whatever mess or discomfort we find ourselves in? The apostle Paul, writing to a very messed up church in Corinth, says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). I thank the Lord for temporary afflictions, setbacks, problems, and pains. I thank the Lord for temporary troubles, struggles, tussles, and toothaches. I thank God that these things are only temporary and that these things won’t last forever or follow us into eternity. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave



10/12/23

💎 Dave’s Diamonds: “100 Years!”💎

Today we will celebrate a very special occasion—Ruth Ewen’s 100th birthday. A hundred years is a long time, more than most of us have been around. A lot has changed in 100 years. A hundred years ago, back in 1923, the average household income was $3,270; the average new house cost $6,296; a brand new Chevy coupe sold for $550; a gallon of milk was 45 cents; a gallon of gas was 30 cents; and the average cost of a wedding was $400. (I told Vicki that we should have had kids 100 years ago!) Lots of changes have occurred in 100 years, including technology, travel, and space exploration. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed…God’s word. The same Bible that was around in 1923 is still around today. And it contains the same encouragement, advice, council, hope, and power as it did when Ruth was born. God’s word is a lamp and a light (Psalm 119:105), it provides correction and education (2 Timothy 3:16), and it gives direction to eternal life (John 14:6). May we hold onto God’s unchanging word. Happy 100th to Ruth on this very momentous occasion! Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. --Dave

 


10/5/23
💎Dave’s Diamonds: “New”💎

I like the smell of a new car, the innocence of a new baby, and the feel of a new t-shirt. There is a special quality to something

that is new. A new recipe entices my taste buds. A new friend request on social media makes me feel special; and there is nothing better than a new set of sheets on the bed. There is a wonderful verse in Lamentations 3:23 that reminds us that God’s mercies come new every morning. Imagine beginning each day with a clean slate, fresh start, and renewed energy for what the day will bring. I love how the Lord recharges our batteries and provides us much needed grace and mercy for each day.

The book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet. He lived during a very dark period in the history of Israel when there wasn’t much to smile about. The city of Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians, the Temple demolished, and many of his friends had been taken captive. But he recognized God’s mercy which came in a new way each morning, much like a sunrise greets us at the start of each day. God’s gift of mercy gave him both hope and energy. May we continue to tap into this power of God’s compassion, grace, and mercy. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. --Dave