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Dave’s Diamonds: “Returning Thanks”

In his gospel, Luke tells the story of Jesus healing 10 men of leprosy as he travels through the region of Samaria (Luke 17:11-19). The men scurry on their way to show themselves to the priest, fulfilling their religious obligation before they can return to their communities and families. One of them, we are told, returns to Jesus to give thanks for this act of healing and restoration. We don’t know how far down the road he got, but we do know that he is the only one of the 10 who returns to say thank you. As he comes back to Jesus he falls at Jesus’ feet in an act of reverence and worship. We are told that this man receives a second healing, a healing of the heart.  That’s precisely what we experience when we combine worship with gratitude. As we return to Jesus to express our thanks, we find that our hearts are renewed and strengthened. This act of worship and gratitude only cost the man some time, but he received so much more in return. During this season of Thanksgiving, may we find ourselves returning praise and thanks to God; and when we do our hearts will be strengthened and renewed as we journey through life. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “The Greatest Giver”

As we enter into the week of Thanksgiving, giving and gratitude should be upon our hearts. Think about a special gift you received and how that gift made you feel. One of the earliest gifts I remember receiving was a VCR that Liz, Katy, and I received for Christmas from our parents. It wasn’t just any VCR, but one of the first ones to hit the retail market. This was back in the mid-70s when this large wrapped box showed up under the tree. The VCR was full of dials and levers, knobs and buttons and an opening in the middle for the VHS cassette that would provide entertainment for years to come. (Now DVD players come in small boxes about the size of an envelope—my, how things have changed!)  We received that gift almost 50 years ago and I can still remember the excitement and pure elation the three of us shared together that morning as we opened this gift. Gifts make us feel special and important and remind us that we matter to others. Did you know that you matter to the Lord? We are told in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God, the greatest giver, sent the ultimate gift of salvation and eternal life to us. Your life matters to the Lord and you were made in God’s redemptive image. Let us celebrate the week of Thanksgiving by sharing our gifts with others and being thankful for this gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “White as Snow”

As I am writing this on Tuesday morning, I’m looking out my office window to the first snowfall of the season. A gentle measure of snow is falling, covering the ground in a blanket like fashion. The brown grass and wind swept leaves are now covered by a fresh layer of snow. Like most of you, I long for and hold on to those beautiful fall days.  Did you know that the word snow is mentioned 23 times in the Bible? It is used to describe the color of leprosy on three occasions, the color of hair on several others, and there is a wonderful illustration to snow and forgiveness in Isaiah 1. The prophet writes, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). Isaiah had an amazing ability to see beyond and there are so many references to a coming savior. Jesus, through his redeeming work on the cross, covers our sins and makes them disappear under the gentle provisions of his grace. Just as the grass and leaves outside my window have been covered by snow, even much more does Jesus’ grace cover us.  May we rest in this wonderful truth and find joy as we continue to strive to live according His ways. Know that you are covered and redeemed and set apart to do good things for the glory of God. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “A Different Kind of Church”
A person told me several weeks ago that our church is unlike any other church she has attended. How so? I asked. She went on to explain that when she comes to church there is a joyful atmosphere, people smile and laugh, and that church has become fun. For the first time in her life, she looks forward to coming to church. This comment warmed my heart because often people equate church with boring, stale, and dry. The church, in my opinion, should be a joyful place where we share the good news of God’s redeeming love for us on the cross, of the hope that we have through the empty tomb, and the promised Holy Spirit that encourages us each day. One of my favorite verses in the Bible has become Psalm 122:1 where King David writes, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” Coming into God’s house should put a joy in our hearts and a smile on our faces. It should be something we look forward to, anticipating coming into the presence of God to worship and draw near to God. John Piper says it well as he writes, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” May we find joy in our worship to God and praise in our service to the Lord. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith. –Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Hammer and Nail”

This coming Monday commemorates the 505th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It was on October 31, 1517 when Pastor Martin Luther, a priest in the Catholic Church, took his hammer and nail and secured his 95 Thesis to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 articles against the Catholic church were intended to provide correction to the church and offer a new way of seeing grace and forgiveness. The results of his efforts were not well received by the church and Luther was forced out, thus starting the Protestant movement. We as Presbyterian have our heritage with this group.

It was in reading the Bible that Martin Luther came to a new understanding of grace and forgiveness. The way to salvation is not through good words and spiritual efforts, but through the love God extends to us on the cross. In particular, Luther came to this understanding by reading Ephesians 2:8 which says, “For it is by grace that you are saved through faith, not by your own efforts: it is the gift of God.” What a relief to know it is not up to us to earn our salvation as we tend to stumble and fall in our faith. Happy 505th to the Reformation and the new life we have in Jesus Christ. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith! –Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “No Kids Allowed”

Some years ago Vicki and I visited some friends in Surprise, Arizona. They lived in what is called a “55+ Community” meaning that you have to be 55 years of age or over to own property in this gated subdivision. It was a beautiful places with manicured lawns and wonderful community pools. But the “55+” stimulation in the community covenant made this place exclusive to older adults. Sure, kids could come and visit; and grandkids were welcomed to use the pools, but they were not welcome to stay for long periods of time. As one on the cusp of 55, I get this rule. It’s nice to have some peace and quiet and enjoy some mature relaxation away from screaming kids and crying toddlers.  But, I’m glad Jesus didn’t have a “55+” policy when he established the Christian faith. Actually Jesus does something quite striking and surprising when it comes to kids. He takes little kids in his arms and says something very profound. He says, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). I’m grateful that Jesus is an equal opportunity savior whereby we are all invited. No gated community, no exclusive policies, not strict covenants. We are all welcome! And for the kids, they bring a vibrancy and enthusiasm to our church like no one else. Let’s do our part in welcoming them as well. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith! –Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Changes”

As I look out my office window I see a Linden tree full of bright colors: reds, oranges, and yellows. What a beautiful time of year as the fall colors fill our neighborhoods. Soon these leaves will fall to the ground and will render the tree barren. This is a natural process that occurs every fall. As I look at this tree I think about the natural process of life. There is a time in our lives when we will lose our leaves and go into the dormant stage. But like a tree, we have the promise of new buds and blossoms as spring approaches. This is the Christian hope and promise we live into each day. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:14, “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.” What a beautiful promise we embrace each day as we live with the hope of new and eternal life. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith! –Dave



Dave’s Diamonds: “Hurricane Straps”
I had never heard of hurricane straps before last week. I was talking with a friend who has relatives on Pine Island, Florida, just off the coast of Fort Meyers. They credited the hurricane straps for saving their home. According to Google, “A hurricane strap is a connector that is used to strengthen wood framed roofs and homes. The most popular hurricane straps are made of galvanized steel, and they are designed to protect structures from the ravages of adverse weather events such as tropical storms and winter storms.” With winds in excess of 150 miles per hour as Hurricane Ian made direct impact with Pine Island these straps did their job and saved their house.  What holds you together amid a storm? What a blessing we have in Jesus who is there to strengthen and support us during adverse conditions. Jesus, at the conclusion of his Sermon on the Mount, offers this great promise. “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). What a great resource
we have in Christ, one who is there who we can rely upon and trust in the most difficult conditions. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith! --Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Numbers”

It seems that our lives can be easily reduced to a series of numbers. Our Social Security Number is often one of the first things asked of us when to comes to personal and secure information. Students are evaluated by their grade point average. Athletes are judged by their 40 yard dash time. Colleges and scholarship committees assess students based on their SAT scores. We appraise the economy based up the numbers in the Dow Jones Index. Medical personnel evaluate our health based on the numbers on the weight scale or blood pressure readings.  I’m glad God doesn’t evaluate us based on our weight, abilities, or performance. God uses a different rubric when it comes to evaluating our lives. There is a wonderful verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 that reminds us "The Lord does not look at the things that people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." We live in a world where we are judged by numbers, but God looks at our heart. I am grateful for a God who knows us by name and renews us from within. May we realize that we are more than a number, we are a person who matters to the Lord and are redeemed by Christ. Stay strong and encouraged in your faith! --Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “Caffeine and Cocoa Beans”

As I was driving to work on Monday morning I was passed by a SUV that had a bumper sticker that read, “Runs on caffeine and cocoa beans.”  I smiled as I read that sticker because I wasn’t sure if it was referring to the Chevy Trailblazer or the driver. At the pace the vehicle zipped by me it could have been either. What do you run on? What gives you fuel for the journey? Many of us seem to run on those two staples: caffeine and cocoa beans. Personally, it’s a Mountain Dew at the 2pm hour to help fuel me through the day. For many of you it’s a coffee or latte that provides the needed jolt to keep you going. Most of us easily tire and become worn out and need something extra to keep us going.  Elijah, a character in the Old Testament, was worn out and discouraged. Sitting under a tree in 1 Kings 19 he wonders if he has enough energy to keep going. He is ready to give up and throw in the towel. He is in desperate need of caffeine and cocoa beans, or something even more. At just that moment, God comes to Elijah and provides water and bread for the journey and reminds him that he is not alone. God lifts Elijah’s spirits and encourages him to keep going through the voice of a gentle whisper. God comes to us in surprising and amazing ways, including a subtle nudge or gentle whisper. May we continue to be strengthened by the Lord and encouraged for the journey! --Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Fresh Fruit”

While in Florida this summer we stopped at a fresh fruit stand off the side of the road near the Everglades. As we looked through the selection of fresh fruit we were reminded quite quickly that we weren’t in Montana. Fresh bananas, mangos, pomegranate, and oranges were on full display. Fresh fruit is much better than store bought fruit and the few items we purchased were divine. I can still taste the fresh cut mango that we enjoyed on that hot summer day.

There are over 20 fruit references in the Bible: the fruit from the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden; the fig tree that Jesus cursed; and the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Jesus desires that we not only eat healthy fruit, but also bear fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 reminds us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” May we cultivate this kind of fruit and, in doing so, live out God’s will for our lives. Stay strong and encouraged! --Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “Gently Used”

I was scrolling through Facebook Marketplace the other night when I came across a request for “gently used clothing.” This request, made by a mother of three, was looking for a variety of gently used clothing for her kids with no holes, rips, tears, or blemishes. Socks, shoes, tops, and jeans…basically anything that has been gently worn. I smiled as I came across this ad because gentle and used is an oxymoron when it comes to things I wear. You see, I tend to wear things hard and wear them out. I will wear a pair of shoes up until the time Vicki has to secretly make them disappear.  I will wear pants, shirts, and socks long after their expiration dates. I’m not sure if it has more to do with buying new things, or just keeping the old things around.  I’m glad Jesus is not just about acquiring gently used things. Imagine if Jesus’s invitation to follow him went something like this, “I’m looking for some people who are in good shape, have no baggage in their past, and have it all together…no holes, rips, tears, or blemishes.” That would certainly disqualify me…and my clothing!  Jesus’ invitation is far from that. Actually Jesus is looking for the likes of me and you when he says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). What an encouraging word! As the Woman at the Well, Prodigal Son, and Thief on the Cross have all learned, we don’t need to have it all together to come to him. Jesus wants all of you and he wants to take your tears, blemishes, and holes and make you whole. Stay strong and encouraged! --Dave



Dave’s Diamonds: “Just Mad”
About 20 years ago, country singer Terri Clark released a song titled, “I Just Wanna Be Mad for a While.” I heard it come on the radio the other day and it made me think about Jonah from the Old Testament. Jonah is one of the most epic stories in the Bible-- tossed overboard during a raging storm, sinking into the depths of the Mediterranean, and then swallowed by a large fish. Some say it is a fable, others suggest it is an allegory, while I think it is a “whale” of a story. The best part of the story, in my opinion, comes at the end when Jonah finally makes it to the city of Nineveh, after much hesitation. As he is waiting for God’s judgment to fall upon the evil people of Nineveh, something strange happens in that place. The people in that pagan city repent and God’s grace is extended to them. You would expect that Jonah would be happy for those in this foreign land, that he would relish in the joy of them turning to the Lord. But that is far from the attitude we see in Jonah. He is angry, sulking in his fury, wishing for a different result to come upon “those” people.
It's easy to become like Jonah in this story. What happens when someone else gets the promotion over you; when someone else on the athletic field catches the coach’s eye, when someone else is extended mercy and they don’t even deserve it! There is a great verse in Romans 12:15 that encourages us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”  Getting mad is natural and comes quite easy to most of us. But don’t allow bitterness and resentment to take over your life. Let’s ask the Lord to renew our thoughts, wash over our emotions, and place God’s heart within us. Stay strong and encouraged! --Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “Who You Gonna Call?”
I love listening to music from the 80’s. Some of my favorite bands from that era include Journey, Chicago, the Cars, Blondie, Phil Collins, John Cougar, and Prince. Yes, I have a varying taste when it comes to music. When I’m helping John with his lawn mowing business, I often will put on an 80s playlist to help pass the time. The other day, the theme song from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters came on. Sung by Ray Parker Junior, it has a reoccurring question that runs throughout the song that asks, “Who you gonna call?” I can hear some of you singing it right now. 😊
Who do you call in times of trouble? Many of us rely upon family, friends, and neighbors. It good to remember that we have the Lord to call upon when we need help. Psalm 34 reminds us of God’s unwavering availability in times of distress. “I prayed to the Lord and he answered me. He freed me from all of my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy.” (Psalm 34:4-5). What a neat promise we have in this scripture. First, God wants us to ask for help; and second, we will be radiant with joy when we seek God’s help. The next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, remember to call upon the Lord. Stay strong and encouraged! --Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Fair Food”

I am smiling as I type in the words, “fair food.” I’m guessing you are smiling as well because fair food brings all kinds of thoughts to mind. Naturally we think of the foot long corn dog, cotton candy, funnel cakes, or the warm, right out of the oven mini donuts…ooooohhhh the mini donuts! These have been staples of fair food for many years. But in more recent years we have seen things like deep fried turkey legs and deep fried Snickers candy bars. I can’t imagine what goes through the mind of medical professionals when they see lines and lines of people standing in front of the fair food concessions. But it is so good we say!

Not everything that is good is good for you. There are many things that are enticing and inviting that are not healthy for our lives. Life is about making healthy choices and going to church is a healthy choice. Studies show that people who attend church on a regular basis have lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart attack and stroke, and live longer. Choosing to follow God and having a strong spiritual connection helps us do better in life. Moses, in his final speech as his life comes to a close, invites us to choose the Lord. He says, “I invite you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you” Deuteronomy 30:16). The Lord loves you and wants you to know of His love for you each day. I know the fair is calling your name with all of its enticing culinary delights. Let’s remember to choose the Lord and dwell in his goodness. Stay strong and encouraged! --Dave



Dave’s Diamonds: “Detergent”
Vicki asked if I would go to the store last month to buy a bottle of laundry detergent. For years we have been a Tide family and that allegiance to the Tide brand of laundry soap has been a strong one. As I stood there in aisle B28 I was amazed with how many different types of laundry detergent there was to pick from. Detergent not only comes in various brands and sizes, but also comes in an assortment of products. There are pods, liquids, powders, and tablets. Some include a Bio Enzyme Booster, others promote a AromaBoost formula, while others endorse a “Non-Toxic laundry wash.” But that’s not all…there’s more! Detergent these days come in a variety of scents like Lavender Eucalyptus, fresh apple, fresh linen, and “After the Rain” scent. I admit that I was a little overwhelmed with the plethora of choices available at the Heights Walmart and in the end I went the safe route and got what we always get, Tide Ultra Oxi High Efficiency. Vicki was pleased!  As I think about laundry detergent, my thoughts turn to Psalm 51. This Psalm, written by King David, came during a low point in his life. He comes clean (pardon the pun) with his affair with Bathsheba and confesses his wrong doings. He writes, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Better than anything on the shelf in aisle B28, Jesus is a great cleaning agent. He takes our stains and odors, our mistakes and sins, and puts them through the spin cycle. He renews us by his gift of salvation and forgiveness on the cross. He invites us to a new way of life whereby we change our ways and live for the Lord.  The next time you are standing in front of the many detergent options, remember the greatest option. We have Jesus and he wants to make you clean and renew your life. Stay strong and encouraged! --Dave




Dave’s Diamonds: “Opinions”
There is an old proverb that goes something like this, Wherever two or more are gathered, there is a multitude of opinions. We all have opinions, ranging from political views, sports teams, food, travel, weather, clothing styles, musical tastes, etc. If I were to ask your favorite food or your favorite color or your favorite sports team, I would get a variety of answers. Some of those answers would cause others to roll their eyes or turn up their noses, or even to think bad thoughts. Just the other night I asked Sara, John, and Erin where they wanted to go and eat and we got three different answers (Vicki and I don’t get a vote, but we do hold veto power 😊).  One of the challenges I have found as a pastor is keeping people unified amid the many opinions we hold. How is it possible for Republicans and Democrats, Broncos and Raiders fans, meat lovers and vegetarians to be able to come together and worship God? The answer is to keep our focus on the main thing. Jesus provides a great blueprint in handling people of various opinions. During a vary contentious time in Jesus’ ministry, he reminds his follows what is most important. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and life to the fullest” (John 10:10). Amid a time when we need to find some unity, Jesus brings us together with these words. May we too find in these words redemption and reconciliation as we come together and worship the Lord and carry our God’s purposes in the mission we share together. Stay strong in faith, healthy in body, and unified in Spirit. --Dave



Dave’s Diamonds: “Struggling With Faith”

I was talking with a friend the other morning and the conversation turned to faith. He said, quite matter of fact, “Dave, you have to realize, I am not a man of faith.” After a slight pause, I didn’t feel ready to move on to the next subject like kids, weather, or work. I probed that area of faith just a bit, wanting to learn more about his resistance to the spiritual realm. He explained how he has seen so many bad things in our world and, if there was a God, how could God allow these types of things to happen. My friend is not alone in his thought process. Many people struggle with the idea of faith because of this very question: how can a good God allow bad things to happen in life? Here is how I reconcile this struggle. We live in an imperfect world of hardship, disease, and accidents. God also allows us to have free will to make decisions that can be harmful to ourselves and others. However, God is in the process of reconciling our world and bringing about redemption. When we die we will enter eternal life and with that a place where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain,” but life everlasting (Revelation 21:4). But until then, we wait with expectant hope and live our lives as a beacon of light to a hurting world. I continue to pray for my friend and opportunities for God to open his heart to the Lord and to allow our conversation to continue about faith, God, and eternal life. I pray the Lord does the same for all of us as we reach out to others. --Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “Display Models”
I was in Best Buy the other day and noticed a row of computers on sale. They were labeled “Display Models” and some were discounted as much as 40% off the retail price. Display models are items that have been taken out of its boxes and put on a counter for people to see what the gadget looks like and how it works. We, as people of faith, are called to be display models as well. Our faith is not something that was intended to be left in a box in a back room, but rather our faith is to be visible for others to see. Jesus, speaking during his famous Sermon on the Mount, says, “You are the light of the world. In the same way, let you light shine before others” (Matthew 5:14). Jesus instructs us to live out our faith and to allow our faith to be visible to others. This is carried out by the way we talk, how we treat others, and the actions we use each day. Our faith is on display each day for others to see the Lord and to come to know of God’s saving grace through Jesus. Continue to stay strong in faith and encouraged in the Good News of Christ. --Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Grateful”

We are so fortunate to live in a place as beautiful and abundant as Montana. My first trip to Montana was in August of 1989 as I drove from Alaska to Bozeman to finish my last two years of college at Montana State. I had never been to Montana before, arriving sight unseen just a few days before the start of the fall semester. Not only did I fall in love with its mountains and big sky, but also a young girl from the small town of Terry in Eastern Montana. We are grateful to call Montana home and to enjoy all that the area has to offer. There is an abundance of hiking, boating, fishing, and exploring opportunities right out of our back yard. Psalm 19 is full of so many images of beauty and abundance. King David opens the Psalm with these words, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1). As we look to our surroundings, may we remember to praise God for God’s promises, strength, and hope of eternal life. God’s fingerprints are all around us and all we need to do is look and be thankful. --Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “On the Way”

Summer provides a great time to get away and enjoy all that our great country has to offer. Vicki and I recently enjoyed 10 days in Florida-- soaking in the sun, swimming in incredibly warm water, experiencing some of the best beaches in the world, and enjoying watching Erin play volleyball. Yes, we were there to watch Erin’s team, but the other additions to the trip were a nice bonus. It is good to get away and experience new places, but it is always good to come home, especially to Montana. Even though Jesus never made it to Florida or Montana, he spent most of his earthly life traveling. Jesus was quite often on the move, going from place to place as he met new people and taught many things. Jesus’ life was not stagnant as he covered a lot of ground in his ministry. While on the way he met those suffering from leprosy, the blind, the lame, and the sick. He met the woman at the well while traveling to Galilee, the hemorrhaging woman while traveling to a friend’s home, and the blind beggar while traveling through Jericho.

There is a great lesson here for us as well. Our ministry to Christ does not just happen while we are sitting in church. Our faith is not isolated to Sunday morning for an hour each week. Rather, it occurs while on the way, with those who we encounter during our daily routines of life. There is such a great need for Christ in our world, and we can all be the hands and feet of Christ while on the way. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). May we open our eyes and hearts to those who we encounter along the way. Stay strong in Christ and encouraged in the Lord. --Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Growing Together”

I’m writing this devotional from Stanford, Montana, where I and a group of 15 youth and adults are leading vacation Bible school in this small town in central Montana. We have come to Stanford for the past seven years, partnering with the First Presbyterian Church in this rural community. This relationship began when Jack Bell was serving this church as their pastor and now continues even after Jack’s death in 2019. It is a trip a lot of our youth enjoy participating in because of the relationships we have developed with the kids and families of this community.  Relationships are important to our faith. In the opening pages of the Bible, God reminds us that it is not good to be alone. This theme is carried on throughout the Bible as Jesus enlists disciples to help with his ministry and invites apostles to share in the work of Christ as the church was in its early stages. Even the author of Hebrews joins in reminding us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25). We were made to live in relationship with others and the church is a place where we can do that best. It’s rewarding to be a part of a church that offers many opportunities that help us grow in faith together, as this mission trip is just one example. Let’s continue to strive to work together, making a difference for the greater glory of God. Be encouraged by Christ and strengthened by one another. –Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Help Wanted”

As Jesus began his ministry in the region of Galilee, he did something very important. He enlisted help from others. He handpicked a group of 12 disciples from various walks of life and socio-economic demographics. Some were fishermen while others were business leaders. Some were Jewish, some Greek, some from larger cities, and others from smaller towns. One was a tax collector, another a Jewish nationalist, and another had experience in banking. Jesus invited these people together to further God’s ministry and mission to the world.  I am grateful that I am neither isolated in my ministry nor am I insular in my work within the church. Our church is blessed with a great resource of volunteers who help out in so many ways. I have been amazed with the number of people who have helped this week with our vacation Bible school program. The number of volunteers who have given of their time this week is overwhelming. We are reminded in the Bible, “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices” (Hebrews 13:16). Stay strong in faith, willing in spirit, and healthy in body. –Dave



Dave’s Diamonds: “Please Hold”

I was checking on the status of a reservation for a rental car on Monday morning and I dialed the 1-800 number on the website. A friendly voice recording answered on the third ring inviting me to listen to a series of selections: for a new reservation, press 1; for an existing reservation, press 2; if you need roadside assistance, press 3; if your plane has been delayed, press 4; and so on, and so on. I pressed number two and was led through another series of prompts: for reservations in the United States, press 1; for international reservations, press 2; all other inquiries please stay on the line. All other inquiries? I thought with a smile on my face. Either you are U.S. or international. I didn’t know that they were renting cars on Uranus these days. I pressed the number 1 and was transferred to another portal in the great abyss of Alamo Car Rental. After a few clicks, ticks, and clacks some catchy music came on and I waited, and waited, and waited.  While I waited, I wondered what it would be like if God had a voice answering service. My mind wondered as to what the prompts might include. When it comes to God, I’m glad we don’t have to wait, take a number, or stand in line. I’m glad that God is available 24/7 to hear our requests. We are reminded in the fourth chapter of Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). I am so grateful that we have one who is available at our beck and call, one who wants to hear from us, and one who grants us peace amid these anxious days. Stay strong in faith, steady in Christ, and healthy in body. –Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “A Time to Remember”

Memorial Day weekend has become synonymous with family gatherings, picnics, camping trips, and rain. Memorial Day also provides a time for us to remember. We take time to remember our veterans and current military and we pause to remember family and friends who are no longer with us. The ability to remember is a wonderful gift that we have. I have said many times that grief is good because it shows how much we care for someone and how much they meant to us. Tears, sadness, and sorrow are emotions that show how much loved ones have meant to us over the years. Even Jesus expressed sadness and despair. In one of the most tender passages in the Bible, Jesus comes to the burial site of his friend Lazarus and cries. In what is the shortest verse in the Bible, we are told in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” Jesus, as strong and powerful as he was, with the ability to resist the devil and overcome disease, principalities, and evil forces, gives us permission to cry. Our emotions express the feelings we hold inside. On this Memorial day weekend, I hope that you will take time to pause and reflect, remember and be renewed in the promises of God.  Allow your emotion to sweep over you, remember and giving thanks to those who have gone before us. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in hope, and healthy in body. –Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Saying Yes to Jesus”

Think of all the decision you make each day. What to wear? What to eat? What to do with your time? These are just some of the hundreds of decisions we make each day. Multiply this over your lifetime and you will make thousands upon thousands of decisions that affect your life. Some decisions are more important than others…what career path do I want to take, do I want to get married and to whom, and where will I choose to live? But the greatest decision we can make in our lifetime is the one to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Psalm 119:59 states, “I pondered the direction of my life and I turned to follow your ways.” What a great, life changing passage!  This Sunday we will be celebrating with eight young people who will be professing their faith in Christ and saying “Yes” to Jesus. I have been working with these students throughout the past year, helping them grow in their faith and developing a greater trust and belief in Christ. They each have written a Statement of Faith, saying in their own words what they believe about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and what means to live the life of faith. May we live our lives for the Lord as we choose to follow the ways and direction of Jesus. Stay strong in faith, focused upon the Lord, and healthy in body. –Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “The Drip”

I heard water dripping in our basement on Tuesday morning. Figuring I had a leak coming from a waterline, I got a chair and tried to discover the origin of the drip. I noticed the water was coming from a heating duct, which caused some confusion because heating ducts are not supposed to carry any water. I went to the garage and got a bucket to collect the dripping water. I returned to the basement with bucket and flashlight in hand. Upon further examination, I traced the dripping water back along the ceiling to the floor vent that was coming from our upstairs piano room. It was at that point that it dawned on me. Just a few minutes earlier I had watered the plants in our piano room and, apparently in my zest to make sure the plants were good and watered, I overwatered one of the plants to the point that water was running over the drip collector underneath. Being near the floor vent the water was running down the vent, causing the leak in the basement. I emptied the collection base that was full of water and the drip eventually slowed to a trickle and then stopped completely.  I could not help by think about Psalm 23 that reminds us of all of God’s provisions in our lives. King David is reminded of all of the attributes of God…The Lord is my shepherd; He makes us me lie down in green pastures; He leads me besides still waters; and He restores my soul. David is so overwhelmed with God’s grace and mercy that he writes in Psalm 23:5, “My cup overflows.” As I learned on Tuesday morning, the term overflows means too much, in excess, or more than enough. God’s blessings don’t just fill our tanks, but are given in excess that they run over the top. On this Thursday morning, be reminded of God’s excess love and grace in your lives. God doesn’t give us just enough, but more than enough. Stay strong in faith, encouraged by grace, and healthy in body. –Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Slow Down”

Is it just me or have you noticed more aggressive drivers on the streets? Just last Sunday as I was coming home from church, I was being tailgated by a pickup. Checking my speed, I realized I was driving the speed limit, but apparently 35 miles per hour wasn’t fast enough for old speedy pants behind me. As soon as the lane opened up next to me he hit the gas and sped right on past me. Vroom, zoom, whoosh, and he was gone! It seems that these scenarios are becoming more common. Either some people seem to be more in a hurry these days or my age is finally catching up to me and I starting to drive like a Lutheran on a Sunday afternoon stroll.  Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. He always had time for people, time to listen and offer an hand. Even in emergency situations, he took time out of his busy schedule to do what mattered most: care for others. There is a wonderful verse found in Galatians 6:9 that says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Jesus sets a great example of living out this passage by slowing down and doing good. There is also a great promise in this passage as well, that we will be blessed by the Lord when we care for others. May we emulate this in our own lives by taking time from our busy and hurried schedules to help others. Stay strong in faith, generous in giving, and healthy in body. –Dave



Dave’s Diamonds: “Worn Out”

Do you ever get tired and worn out? It’s common for us to hear people say, “I’m pooped,” “I need to rest,” or “I have had enough.” We get tired physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Yes, even spiritually. We can become tired in our faith, tired of trying to do good, and tired of going to church. The author of the New Testament book of Hebrews knows this about us and wrote this book to encourage us to stay strong in our faith and persevere in our belief in Christ. I love Hebrews 10:24-25 which says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ] approaching.”  There are two things that we are invited to do in this passage. First, we are invited to be an encourager to others. We all know of people who have come alongside of us at just the right time to speak words of hope and encouragement into our lives. The author of Hebrews encourages us to be that person to someone else; in essence, to be a cheerleader of faith. Second, we are invited to continue to meet together. People who isolate from others often struggle in their faith. Yes, we can worship God on our own and having some time for personal spiritual growth is very important. But there is also something very important about being together and growing together in our relationship with Christ. The church is like a team whereby we gather to learn, grow, and support one another in the ways of God. What great verses that provide some practical advice for us in our day and age of isolation and despair. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in Spirit, and healthy in body. –Dave

Dave’s Diamonds: “Don’t Stop Believing”

It’s one of the greatest songs in the history of music, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Released in 1981, this song was written by band member Jonathan Cain at a very low point in his life. As a struggling musician living in Hollywood he called his dad in Chicago and asked to borrow some money. His father gave him a loan and encouraged him to continue his music career and ended the conversation by saying, “Son, don’t stop believing.” He wrote those three words in his lyric book and when he joined the band Journey several years later he wrote the song that became the band’s trademark hit.  These are also good lyrics for us. In these days of uncertainty and unrest, we are invited to put our trust in the Lord. As I mentioned last Sunday, the spirit of Easter continues to live on in our lives every day. As people of faith, we live with Easter hope, the power of the risen Christ. Belief is a powerful force that invites us into a relationship with our living God. Christ came from the tomb and is alive with us today through the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay strong in faith, encouraged in belief, and healthy in body. –Dave


Dave’s Diamonds: “Life from the Grave”

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word cemetery? Most likely the words are death, scary, eerie, spooky, and creepy. Many of these thoughts come from Hollywood movies, the likes of Night of the Living Dead, The Godfather, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Imagine the three women coming to the tomb of Jesus early that first Easter morning and hearing sounds from the grave. I&rs